PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In March, the city of Pittsburgh’s Fineview neighborhood was plagued with a series of burglaries.

Police were trying to develop information on a suspect, but they weren’t successful until the neighborhood, which was already tied into the NextDoor.com site, started noticing daytime patterns.

That led to an arrest.

“After we were able to do that, and get from them exactly the times, locations, more specifically once they had conversations, we were able to get a pattern and trend together and they realized they were able to spot who the burglar was based on that,” said Pittsburgh Police Commander Rashall Brackney.

On Thursday, the City of Pittsburgh announced a partnership with NextDoor.com, which will allow the city to send specific messages to specific neighborhoods when necessary.

Susan Van Alstine, of Lawrenceville – an active NextDoor.com neighborhood, says it’s been working for them for months now.

“Nobody stops to talk to their neighbors anymore,” says Van Alstine. “So I think it’s been very valuable for allowing people to meet their neighbors maybe only ever online, but they can meet their neighbors. They can find out what’s going on in their local community, find events and goings on that might be of interest to them.”

But how do you make sure neighbors communicate rather than burglars?

Sarah Leary, of NextDoor.com, says there are protections in place to control access.

“So, in order to join a NextDoor website, you have to be able to verify your address before you can see any of the content and start talking to your neighbors,” she says.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto sees it this way: “Providing people with the tools to have their government operate better, provides people the opportunity to make their neighborhood better.”

Pittsburgh now joins cities like New York, Denver and Seattle where NextDoor.com is partnering with city government.

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