A new kind of "neighborhood watch" links up online - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

A new kind of "neighborhood watch" links up online

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Following a car break-in in his neighborhood, one eastern Iowa man had an idea to try and cut down on crime. Now, the West End Dubuque neighborhood has its own networking system, linking more than 100 neighbors to each other so they can all watch out for each other.

This particular neighborhood, Harvest View, decided banding together is the best way to stay safe and informed. Gone are the days of borrowing a cup of sugar from the neighbors; you might not even know everyone who lives around you. That's the idea here: Get to know the neighbors and work together.

A few weeks ago, someone in the neighborhood woke up to find someone had rifled through their car. Nothing was stolen, but the door had been left ajar with some papers strewn around

"One of our other neighbors found out about it and put out a short email to five, six or seven of us, and then it dies. No one else in the whole neighborhood knows about it, and there's 124 homes here," Don Foley said.

Foley lives a few doors down and had been thinking about an idea to link everyone together. It's a simple spreadsheet called the Harvest View Neighborhood Alert listing Neighbors can use it to tell each other if something suspicious is going on.

"Just go to the PC, simply tell what happened, and it just alerts other neighbors that may keep an eye out for that type of activity," Foley said.

If someone doesn't have a personal computer, a next door neighbor would call or stop by that family's house.

Police say these ideas work great and help law enforcement.

"We obviously welcome any assistance we can get from the community and that's the heart and soul of community oriented policing is engaging the community, getting their assistance, working with them toward a common goal," Lt. Scott Baxter said.

Foley says crime is very rare in the subdivision, but simply being able to pass along information after telling police makes a difference.

"We don't want this system to make a cloak and dagger neighborhood out of us with people watching other ones real closely, you know. But it's just the point that it's just good communications," Foley said.

The neighborhood used the system for the first time Tuesday night when someone's Christmas decorations were stolen from their yard.

The Harvest View neighborhood also uses their network to pass along information about neighborhood meetings and other items of interest, not just crime.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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