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Neighborhood crime watches taking on technology

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Updated: 12/16/2013 8:32 pm
ST. AUGUSTINE, FLA. -- Neighbors watching over neighbors.
That's the main goal of a traditional neighborhood crime watch program.
But deputies with the St. John's County Sheriff's Office say these programs are changing with the times.

"As far as day-to-day communications, we are seeing a lot of electronic communications via email -- stuff comes in via social media," said St. John's Sheriff Sgt. Catherine Payne.

But interacting with your neighbors through the Internet brings the definition of neighborhood crime watch into question for people like Debi Redding.

"If you're all online, you're not going to know who your neighbor is," said Redding.

She says getting to know those who live around the neighborhood has helped the community more than once.

"Someone broke into our sheds and was able to call in. Now we do have alarms, so our alarms will go off, but we've got everybody on the lookout," said Redding.

Payne says while meeting face to face does have its benefits, communicating through social media can be faster.

"Electronic communications, we can target a specific group and area in the community, send an email out, mass communication," said Payne.

But Redding says she'll stick to the old-fashioned way of doing things.

"The only way you'll know if they don't belong is if you know your neighbor," said Redding.

Payne says she doesn't think "face to face" neighborhood watch meetings will go away, but she does think officers could eventually use Skype to interact with those communities using the Internet.

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