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'Nextdoor' Is Helping Police, Citizens Fight Crime

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A social network known for connecting neighbors is now helping police fight crime and make communities safer.

Nextdoor allows users to post about anything from finding babysitters to lost pets. It also allows police to target certain neighborhoods and send emails to ask for assistance.

"In a way we virtually walk the beat," he said.

Just like they did last month, when a handicapped ramp at a park had been vandalized for a second time. Installing a surveillance camera and assigning more patrols didn't help.

"What really cracked the case for us was our Nextdoor message," Machtemes said.

A mom turned her teenage son in after she saw the message and confronted him about the crime.

"It's important for people to connect and communicate with each other because that's how crime gets solved," he said.

It's also a way for people to protect each other. Jessica Armstrong lives in Eagan but happened to be visiting Apple Valley Tuesday night.

"I was just finishing up at the gas station when I noticed a woman walking with a bright, yellow scarf," Armstrong said. "When I got home I opened an email from Nextdoor stating that a woman with a bright, yellow scarf was missing, so I called it in."

Police found the woman walking on a sidewalk six hours after she had gone missing.

"Oh, I don't need any credit for anything, I just wanted to help out," Armstrong said.

About 20 percent of Eagan residents are signed up on Nextdoor so far, but police would like to see much more participation.

Many other metro police departments are also using the tool.

The service is free and it's easy to sign up. Click here for more information on Nextdoor.

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