In days gone by it used to be that concerned residents would turn to their phone tree when a crime occurred in their neighborhood. Now they log onto Facebook.
The conventional Neighborhood Watch programs are seeing a new extension forming as more communities are staying connected about the activities happening in their neighborhoods through social networks.
Locally, Turlock is getting in on the trend with the Turlock Neighborhood Watch page on Facebook.
Started by Turlock resident Dani Love, the Turlock Neighborhood Watch page has created a virtual bulletin board where residents can spread the word about criminal and suspicious activity.
“What inspired me to start the group was actually because of an issue in my neighborhood and felt it would be easier to inform my neighbors of things going on and vice versa,” Love said. “Also, to get the community to come together and help each other out and warn one another of any potential dangers to keep our kids safer.”
Love started the group in late June and since then has seen membership bloom. Facebook users have to be approved before joining the group and are asked to keep their posts limited to observations and notifications and not personal tirades or gossip. Most posts on the page provide information about reported burglaries and descriptions of suspicious individuals and vehicles seen in various neighborhoods. So far, the group has been able to return several lost pets, provide information about self-defense and is currently taking up a collection for a family who lost their belongings in a house fire.
“A strong community is re-building here and it’s nice to see so many people willing to help one another, even complete strangers,” Love said.
It’s not just city dwellers who are using the virtual world to fight crime. Ranchers and farmers are finding it to be an effective tool to keep tabs on thieves who prey upon rural areas. The Hilmar Farm Watch is a web page dedicated to dispersing information about thefts and suspicious activities. Recently it was used to publicize the theft of several calves. Additional sites are set up for several rural areas, including Ballico and East Stanislaus.
To join the Turlock Neighborhood Watch group go to: www.facebook.com/groups/Turlockneighborhoodwatch.