Social network for neighbors becoming viral neighborhood watch

Nextdoor.com is seeing a boost in crime posts

Author: Lauren Sweeney, Special Projects Producer, lsweeney@clickorlando.com
Published On: May 12 2013 11:00:00 PM EDT   Updated On: May 13 2013 07:30:36 AM EDT
ORLANDO, Fla. -

A site created to help neighbors connect with each other is now helping them prevent crime.

Nextdoor.com is a social networking site just for neighborhoods.

Neighbor networks are started by someone in the community and then it is up to a group of neighbor administrators to add who they want to allow to be part of the site.

Ray Glover started the site for the Rock Springs Ridge Community in Apopka a few years ago and now they have over 400 members.

"It exploded in a good way," said Glover.

Amy Benet did the same for her West Melbourne neighborhood. 

The site works like Facebook and Craigslist all wrapped into one.  Neighbor members can post items for sale, invite people to events, share photos and even help locate lost pets.

Benet said Nextdoor helped tracked down their cat within a day.

But recently, the site's creators, as well as neighbor members, say they are seeing it used for crime awareness and prevention.

Nish Patel, a member of the Rock Springs site, said he alerted Nextdoor when his car was broken into, before calling police.

As a result, police were able to find that there had been a string of car break-ins throughout the community.

"A lady actually alerted everyone once during a robbery in progress," said Patel. 

It put everyone on alert to be on the look out for the suspect, which allowed police to track him to a grocery store down the road and ultimately arrest him. 

Nextdoor said it's been working with police departments across the country to bring neighborhood watch groups online. 

The Orlando Police department utilizes the site for coordination of its National Night Out.

The department did not want to comment about using it, stating in an email they did not want to appear to be endorsing it. 

To see if Nextdoor is available in your neighborhood, just sign in with your email address and address.  If there is one available, you can ask to be added to the site.  If not, you can start one by filling out a short survey.