Social Media Provides New Ammunition In Battle Against Crime


UPDATED: Wednesday May 15, 2013 12:24 AM

A coordinator for the Short North Block Watch is using Facebook to share information about crimes in the neighborhood.

Amelia Constanzo has a crime fighter in the palm of her hands.

“It’s usually just people asking questions like, ‘Hey, did you see that weird person walking around the other night, knocking on doors, anybody know who that is?’” Constanzo said.

The block watch coordinator said that friends of the Short North Block Watch on Facebook are constantly sharing information about crimes or possible criminals lurking in the neighborhood.

Someone recently posted a picture of a man standing on a porch and said that it was a man seen breaking into homes.

“People will pose a question, ‘Does anyone know what was up Saturday night at 1 a.m. between Second Avenue and Tappan Street? There were police cars galore on the east side of the street,’” Constanzo said.

She said the most common posts are about car break-ins and panhandlers.  The occasional lost cat also ends up on the feed.

The Facebook page is a marriage of technology and community that helps residents look out for each other. It’s a handy companion when they are out and about in neighborhood haunts like Goodale Park.

The block watch takes advantage of the wide-spread use of smart phones among Short North residents. They can instantly post a message to everyone on the Facebook page if they see possibly criminal activity or suspicious persons in the park.

Constantzo said she believes one of the advantages of using social media is that people are not as afraid to voice their opinions about things and talk about being a victim.

Constanzo said that any neighborhood can adopt their model. Just create a Facebook page, talk it up with the people who live around you and ask them to start posting.

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