social media

San Jose Homeowners Go Digital to Fight Crime

This is perhaps one of the more compelling crime fighting stories in the South Bay: A burglar ignores the surveillance cameras and breaks into a home in Willow Glen. Hours later, the video was all over a social media page called Willow Glen Charm.

Neighbors and business-owners are arming themselves with technology and social media to battle crime, including thefts and break-ins.

“Eighty-Six thousand people were seeing it -- we had 1,700 shares on that,” said Holly Barr, who started the page as a way to promote her real estate business and highlight Willow Glen.

But some of her followers are now using the site as a crime fighting tool.

“It's a village – all of us,” Barr said. “The only way I can find out about stuff is if people tell me. And I just put it out there and people communicate."

In the last year alone, there have been more than 1,600 property crimes in Willow Glen.

It's one of the reasons an anonymous group founded another site on Twitter, called Willow Glen Crime Watch. The site publishes police scanner traffic, and often provides real time updates on crimes in progress.

Chris Roth, the president of the Willow Glen Neighborhood Association, is happy to hear it, but not surprised his neighbors are so involved. “Given tight budgets, neighborhoods are figuring out different ways to do more with less, and take matters into their own hands,” Roth said.

Law enforcement officials also welcome the tools.

“When there are additional eyes and years, the criminals see that,” said Officer Albert Morales of the San Jose Police Department. “If they know other people are watching, there's surveillance video,  it definitely assists us."

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