Burglary victim: App gives sense of community

Mar 1, 2018, 5:08 PM | Updated: Jun 26, 2018, 10:06 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Neighbors in the Avenues are keeping their eyes peeled for suspicious activity after burglars made off with guitars, electronics and other valuables from a home in broad daylight Wednesday morning.

“I felt very, very violated,” said Marissa Miller, as she showed the basement door that had been kicked in. “Victimized: like somebody’s been watching you. It’s terrifying.” 

As frightening as that is, Salt Lake City police say burglars typically break-in while we’re away during the day.  They’re not seeing a rise in burglaries in the neighborhood, but neighbors are working together to find the crooks.

“It made me feel like I have a community that’s with me on this,” Miller said.

We’ve heard it a lot lately: when you see something, say something.  Police say, that’s always been the case with neighborhood security.  An app, called Nextdoor, that’s growing in popularity now gives us a way to work together against the criminals.  Miller turned to it Wednesday when she realized burglars had been in her home.

“I looked into my room and saw that things had been shoved over, and that’s when I got pretty freaked out,” Miller said.

The thieves cleared out their valuables after Miller and her roommates had left for school and work. She said they stole an electric guitar, PlayStation, Xbox, several TVs and a valuable camera. 

Miller says the crooks carted her things away in garbage bags from under her sink. She believes they took everything out the back door and loaded up away from any watchful eyes out on the street.

“We imagine they pulled their car into our garage and loaded everything.” She filed a police report and early this morning thought of another tactic. “I wasn’t able to sleep because I was so distraught,” she said.  “I remembered, I have this app on my phone called Nextdoor.”

It’s an online community forum for each of our neighborhoods.  On Nextdoor, we can meet neighbors, exchange ideas, get recommendations on everything from lawn care to babysitters, argue about nearby construction and say something when we see something.

“I went on the app, and posted a description of what had happened us,” she said. Within minutes, long before the sun rose this morning, she received several replies. Several people sympathized and shared emotional support. Another neighbor on Nextdoor shared a description of a white van that matched a suspicious vehicle Miller had spotted the day before. Police are investigating a license plate number that may provide a lead.

“It gives you peace of mind,” she said.  “It helps you feel like you have a sense of community, and people looking out for you.” 

Police need tips from all of us.  They need us to act as their eyes and ears, and the Nextdoor app helps. “If you’re a neighbor that’s home, make sure that you’re watching,” said Detective Keith Horrocks with the Salt Lake City Police Department.

“It (the Nextdoor app) really helps the community get closer together,” Horrocks said.  “But, it also helps them alert each other of things that might be out of place.”

Neighbors can band together against the criminals. “It’s really nice to know that there are people out there that are looking out for each other,” said Miller.

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Burglary victim: App gives sense of community