Homeowners are leaving the church meetings behind when it comes to keeping up with what's going on in the community. Instead they're turning to the cyber world to be the eyes and ears of their neighborhoods.
According to homeowner Javier Leiva, "Around 2 a.m., this person was watching a movie and heard six semi-automatic gun fire rounds."
Today, many neighborhoods are neither quiet nor crime-free.
"We recently had several break-ins occurring from as far over as Ashlon, Strathmore Circle, two on Eastwood, so it's still helpful and we made sure everyone was on alert to look at their door; if a dog was barking," said Eric Stark.
"When I first moved here, it was literally - the neighbors would get together at a church and they would talk about the things happening in the community," Leiva added. "The precinct officer would be there, but now it's completely different."
Many homeowners are no longer just depending on the family pet or a neighborhood watch meeting to make them aware of what's happening in their community. They're turning to the web.
"The Yahoo group we are associated with, I think it develops a sense of community within the neighborhoods and I think it also increases involvement and awareness of each neighbor, which I think promotes safety," said Linda Snyder.
"If I saw somebody suspicious walking in the neighborhood, you can post it, it sends you an email alert, so you pretty much know what's going on real time," added Leiva.
Neighbors are using various websites, such as NextDoor.com, to stay in touch or they're creating their own group sites, with information including emails, phone numbers, detailed records of crime reports, connections with law enforcement, reports on missing children or animals, even as detailed as maps or links to child predators in the neighborhood.
"People work around the clock, you know, definitely a more real time thing, you can get it on your phone, half the people in the world have a cell phone," Stark said. "They can email and they can communicate about their home, even when they're at work."
Using this type of technology is not accessible by everyone. For security reasons, neighbors must be invited to be a part of the site. They all agree since the police can't be everywhere, neighbors must be the eyes and ears.
"I think we're here first, we see it," Snyder said. "We're the eyes, we're the neighborhood watch and we care."
Neighbors say sometimes the sites are overwhelming when it comes to information and getting constant updates.
"You can ignore sites like these and not use them, but it's the future," Leiva said. "It's the way we communicate now, so we have to keep in touch or else the other option is not knowing what's going on and that's probably not the safest option."
Neighborhoodwatch.com - What's Happening in your neighborhood
Nextdoor.com - The private social network for your neighborhood.
Shelby County Crime Prevention Office - 901-222-5843
WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
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