Raleigh, N.C. — A website that's taking neighborhood watches to the next level is growing in popularity.
People living in Raleigh neighborhoods where several kidnappings and robberies have occurred in the last two weeks used Nextdoor to stay alert.
Kira Kroboth stayed tuned in to the site last week as police investigated the abduction of a woman from outside her home off Ebenezer Church Road in northwest Raleigh. The woman said a masked man forced her to drive at gunpoint to a nearby ATM and withdraw money, and she later escaped unharmed.
"Nextdoor has been fantastic," Kroboth said. "Everyone is posting and communicating."
The site – a software application is also available for iPhones and Androids – allows people living in the same neighborhood to connect, sharing everything from safety concerns to plumber recommendations. Only people who live in a particular neighborhood are allowed to join that neighborhood's group.
"I had some buyers who moved into the neighborhood, and they couldn't join Nextdoor until they actually had the address attached to their name," real estate agent Nicolle Mercer said.
In Durham County, where Mercer lives and works, about 5,000 residents are active on the site, and the Durham County Sheriff's Office has even started a page and is encouraging more homeowners to join.
"If we see a pattern of criminal activity in a particular area, we'd be able to send a message to that neighborhood specifically," Deputy Paul Sherwin said.
More than 70 percent of Kroboth's neighborhood has joined, as has about half of Mercer's neighborhood. Mercer said the site is building communities in new ways.
"It's not where you drive in your garage door and you're done," she said.