Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sign up, it’s free!

The President of the Woods Park Neighborhood Association posted a comment earlier this week, asking me how many people have signed up for Crime Alerts, using crimemapping.com. He’s interested in publicizing the service more widely to other neighborhood associations and their members, using the resources of some of our local newsletters and networks.

As of yesterday morning, there were 1,005 people signed up for Crime Alerts in Lincoln. That’s okay, but it ought to be well into the five digits, in my view. Seems to me that in a city of a quarter million, there should easily be 10,000 people who’d like to now if a mailbox down the street got vandalized, a set of golf clubs were stolen across the cul-de-sac, or a GPS unit taken out of a car parked one street over.

That’s exactly what Crime Alerts do—they send you a short email about the Lincoln police reports about crime within the distance you specify from your address. After you pick the address, the distance, and the crime types you’re interested in, the information automatically comes to your email inbox when the alert is triggered by a new crime report.

I’ve made a couple of attempts to ramp those numbers up in the past. I’m signed up for Crime Alerts personally in my own neighborhood, and I receive alerts from time to time about things I never would have spotted in the volume of police reports that cross my computer screen daily. It’s a simple, free, and effective way to keep an eye on crime in your own back yard.

I want people to know what’s happening in their area. If they do, they will be able to keep things in perspective, yet take preventative precautions that help us achieve our goals as a police department.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm just signed up for robberies, city-wide. I usually find out about them before they e-mail me the notice, however, through active surfing of the LPD incident summaries and crimeview community.

Anonymous said...

I signed up about a month ago. Makes me feel pretty safe but with the number of smashed car windows that come over the alerts my car is now always way up the driveway or in the garage!

Anonymous said...

Attentiveness may not bring the change you want. An additional 9,000 subscribers may interpret the alerts other than as intended and in turn stimulate more unrelated calls and over burden an undersized department.

On the other hand, it may be just the right thing a Chief would need to present to budgetary councils and further validate the publics desire for more officers becuase of the increased calls.

The ultimate change would be cultural. If these alerts would encourage the public to follow through with reporting what they saw while keeping them anonymous would be the greatest benefit.

Hard to believe, but while almost every phone has internet access, not every home has interent access. Would it be possible to make the alerts come out as texts? I see some Lincoln families as being more comfortable with their phones than logging on at the home.

Anonymous said...

I've signed up for it and love it. Though I had to ramp down the distance a bit as I am too close to Wal-Mart. Don't need to know about every shop-lifter that they nab.

But knowing what is going on in my neighborhood is a great tool. Thanks for publicizing this.

-js- said...

Have you, or the Omega Group, attempted to put together some type of canned prevention tips that could be pushed out to an email recipient when the threshold for a certain crime type has been met within a set time frame? Similar to our threshold alerts but with sound prevention advice attached.....

Perhaps this wasn't the intent of crimemapping.com however, in my own deluded opinion, it could have value.

Tom Casady said...

6:55-

I'm not sure how all the carriers handle it, but with Verizon, you can email a text message just by using your 10-digit phone number followed by @vtext.com. So, if I signed up for a crime alert with an email address of:

xxxxxxxxxx@vtext.com

...it would arrive on my mobile as a text message, rather than an email alert.

For Sprint,

xxxxxxxxxx@messaging.sprintpcs.com

for Nextel,

xxxxxxxxxx@messaging.nextel.com

for US Cellular,

xxxxxxxxxx@email.uscc.net

Anonymous said...

xxx-xxx-xxxx@message.alltel.com

Demian said...

I signed up about 3 months ago and is a valuable resource. It keep's you posted of whats going on in your neighborhood. It also lets me know what to keep an eye on in my neighborhood.

Thank you cheif for the opportunity to have such a valuable resorce.

Demian said...

xxxxxxxxxx@sms.mycricket.com

For cricket subscribers...

Tom Casady said...

-js-

Actually, a couple of Omega employees and I have been discussing just this topic in the past week. Bob, for example, thinks that crime prevention information, tips, and links are a critical part of the "information package."

I, on the other hand, tend to believe that the crime mapping info should be lean and mean, and that we should not burden it with other stuff. There's value in providing good crime prevention material and links on our website, but I just don't think we need to push that to you every time you get an email message about a vandalism or burglary in your neighborhood.

As an upshot of this discussion, I discovered that our crime prevention material and links were getting a little behind, so that was just updated late last week.

Anonymous said...

I found it last night, linked from another of your postings, and signed up. Got my first hit today. Cool site, and great emails to get!

Tom Casady said...

As fate would have it, I just received a Crime Alert in my own neighborhood. Case number A9-026869, a vicious potato attack on a Dodge Ram pickup. Now I'll be on the lookout for anyone carrying a length of PVC pipe.

Anonymous said...

Well, we've apparently got another robbery, though there isn't an incident summary posted as I type this. I wonder if it's a business robbery or a street robbery.

The local media seems unaware, probably because LPD hasn't yet spoon-fed it to them, and it's easier to run network feed about floods in North Dakota than it is to pick up the phone and call the duty desk to find out about a robbery in your own city.

-js- said...

I agree Chief...I don't think that a subscriber would need (or want) information pushed out everytime for every crime type. Perhaps I didn't think things through.

With that said, 'our' goal in providing data is to impact behavior through knowledge. While crimes in ones neighborhood may interest them, they may be at a loss for how to impact a particular crime type. That is where I think some type of link may have value.

This could really pay dividends with neighborhood watch groups...and at the very least, may recruit a few thousand more persons to install deadbolts and motion lighting, remove valuables from their cars, etc.

Anonymous said...

Regarding crime prevention tips - it could be a check box OPTION when signing up, just as you can chose between the different types of reported crimes.

I am looking towards to when LPD texts a property owner directly when an incident happens or is happening on their property. An opt-in system might be best.

Texting might be the rage, but I still get charged a quarter each time someone sends me one!

Anonymous said...

I signed up and was freaked out by all the alerts until I realized that 70% of them are calls to nearby Northeast High School because of kids hitting each other, stealing books, punching teachers...wait. I'm still freaked out!

Anonymous said...

Speaking or prevention, did A9-027142 have a locked deadbolt on the pried-open front door? When you review what was burgled, I don't think it would be believable that they couldn't afford to install one.

HerrChin said...

I've been using it ever since you first linked to it. I'm surprised how many thefts note wallets/purses/GPS/etc stolen from an *unlocked* auto. Leaving valuables in your car, probably in plain sight, unlocked? That's asking for a crime of opportunity...

On the flip side, it reinforces that the "don't be the easy target" mentality does work.

Tom Casady said...

11:59 -

Looks like your basic key-in-lock in a weak frame.

Anonymous said...

I thought that would be the case about the lock, but wanted to make sure. It goes withoiut saying that you'd need a green-light from your landlord to install this kind of stuff and a deadbolt, if you live in a rental, but it'd be far cheaper than losing a flat-panel TV, blu-ray player, and game console. They've got installation vids at that link. Hit your local home stores and see what they've got in the way of door reinforcement gear.