Facebook: The New Neighborhood Watch?

We came across a great blog about this topic: is Facebook the new neighborhood watch? In this online community, “law enforcement information is being dispersed; home security tips are being shared, and neighbors are meeting each other for the first time through this Facebook interface.”

Well, we think this is a great idea. We’ve always recommended leaning on your neighbors, and the reason for this? What burglars hate the most is NOSY NEIGHBORS. The more tight-knit and active a community is, the more likely a burglar will skip on by. They hate neighbors sitting on their porch drinking their morning coffee while suspiciously eyeing them. They can’t stand a neighborhood where everyone is outside- cooking on their grill, mowing their lawn, watching their kids play, etc. The criminals especially don’t like neighborhoods that have an active neighborhood watch with a patrol team.

Social media is quickly becoming the fastest, easiest and cheapest way to communicate with friends and family. Why not help your neighbors too? “In this age of digital information sharing, it’s powerful to see a social network try to change the crime dynamics of a neighborhood.”

Here are some tips from a Facebook Neighborhood Watch Program:

1. Share crime incident descriptions and descriptions of perpetrators
2. Divide your area into zones to create an even stronger sense of ownership
3. Connect with law enforcement using your Facebook group
4. Announce zone walks and tell the good news when the zone is clear
5. Besides meeting digitally, set up a time to meet in person. Real face to face meetings (not just Facebook to Facebook meetings) are good for community spirit
6. Use the Facebook wall to point out public safety issues (burned-out streetlights, street signs hidden by vines, abandoned cars, broken windows, etc.), and then take those issues to the city to get them fixed!
7. Involve local businesses, especially the service industry workers who are often the last ones going home at night after they clean up their restaurants and cars. These people can be your best eyes and ears.

Besides your Neighborhood Watch, social media is also helpful for checking out safe places to live, search crimes along bike paths or on public transportation, and even tracking illnesses. Check some of those sites here.

The Boston Police are even Twittering suspect’s descriptions to help create awareness. As of this week, the NYPD announced “it formed a new unit to track people who discuss their crimes on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. The unit will ‘mine social media, looking for info about troublesome house parties, gang showdowns and other potential mayhem,’ according to the New York Times Daily News.”

In this digital age where we share so much information, we must be aware of oversharing personal details pertaining to our own security. “A note to all – be mindful about posting information that feeds details on your short coming in personal security. This is the very thing predators use to help them identify weaknesses.

Pegged as “Internet shopping for burglars”, we’ve created a dangerous combination of a willingness to “friend” total strangers and openly broadcast personal information, essentially creating a field day for professional burglars. Just use common sense and play it safe. Avoid bragging about new expensive purchases, problems with your security, or even talking about a future vacation. You never know who might read it!