A group of West Seattle businesses is banding together to keep a closer eye on crime in their neighborhood.

They're concerned about thefts and drug use and say they want to keep the Junction neighborhood safe as the nearby population swells.

“As we see more people coming into the junction, there’s a much higher probability for theft and also for behavior that is not welcome in our district,” said Lora Radford, executive director of the West Seattle Junction Association.

The organization started Seattle’s first Business Block Watch, a pilot program, to see if a coordinated effort by shops, bars, and restaurants, can help catch criminals.

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If someone is a victim of shoplifting or if they see a serious problem on their block, they can now very quickly send a text message warning to dozens of other business owners in their neighborhood.

“If there is something happening down the street, having a heads-up is a really great idea, because we often are working with one or two people, and it would be great to just have that awareness,” said Lisa Myers, owner of Capers Home, which sells home decorations and furnishings.

The block watch is a collaboration between the Seattle Police Department and the West Seattle Junction Association. It includes nearly 300 business owners who are posting decals in their windows. Block watch street signs will also go up around the Junction.

The idea for the project hatched from a frustration among some business owners that police weren't able to show up to every crime report.

“The policing team is spread very thin so we can't expect them to respond to every small incident,” Radford said.

The business association says it's already generated tips about petty crimes, which previously might not have been reported.

If this effort proves useful, it could expand to other neighborhoods, where businesses could use some help warning each other about what's happening down the block.