Neighborhood watch goes virtual on new social media site

neighborhood watchRenee Hartley's barking dog first alerted her something was wrong Tuesday during lunch hour.

"She was barking, and I thought she was hitting the door trying to get out," Hartley, 38, explained. "But it turns out it wasn't, it was them trying to kick the door in."

Footprints are still smeared on her back door from the attempted burglars.

"As soon as I called 911, I posted it on our Nextdoor site, just to kind of alert our neighbors of what was happening," she said. is a social media site tailored specifically for neighborhoods. Only those who live there are invited to join the free, private networks.

Users can share suggestions for everything, from plumbers to baby sitters. But also sends texts or e-mails anytime there's an emergency unfolding in each neighborhood.

Think of it like a virtual neighborhood watch.

"Yeah, there are a lot of virtual neighborhood watches, so to speak," Hartley said. said 260 Dallas neighborhoods have created their own sites, and 958 now exist across North Texas.

"We've lost touch with our neighborhoods," said Nirav Tolia, CEO, "and technology can play a role in bring back a sense of community to the neighborhood, and that's where Nextdoor comes in."

But this website is more than just an online bulletin board.

"It's a very simple thing," Tolia continued. "It's putting technology in a neighbor's hands, so they can work with the police force to create a safer place to live."

The Dallas Police Department is the largest of its kind to use, Tolia said. Officers alert neighborhoods to specific issues, and ask for the public's help in solving crimes.

After Hartley posted about her attempted burglary Tuesday afternoon, another user who lives a couple blocks away responded to say they just saw the suspects. It helped Hartley re-direct officers and eventually find the suspects.





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