BAKERSFIELD, CA - A Bakersfield neighborhood hit hard by a series of recent burglaries, is using social media to try and catch the thieves. People living near Bakersfield Country Club started a Neighborhood Watch group on Facebook.
While would-be burglars are watching their neighborhood, residents are watching them. Homeowners are using a Facebook group to notify their neighbors about break-ins and suspicious activity.
Neighbors are also reporting the crimes to the Sheriff's Department, which led to deputies taking action. They made 17 arrests to clean up the neighborhood of people suspected of other crimes.
Earlier this month, three suspected burglars were caught on camera trying to break-in to a home in northeast Bakersfield. "We could see their faces, their clothes, which were very distinctive," explained Margaret Roux.
This is one prime example of how more people are using technology to track thieves. "It's like okay guys, this is happening too frequently," said Roux.
"We're putting up a sign that says, smile you're already on camera," she continued.
Homeowners created a neighborhood Facebook page, where they post pictures and videos to report crimes and suspicious activity in the area.
"They'd knock on the door. If nobody is home, either they kick in the door or they jump the fence and try knocking on the back door," said Roux.
The page is somewhat of a virtual Neighborhood Watch, and you can only join by invitation.
"That way, you're not nervous about posting. I saw two women walking down the street and they were kind of looking in the yards," explained Roux.
"That may be someone's niece who's visiting, but there's no harm if they are able to say 'that was my niece' or 'no I have no idea who that is and they shouldn't be on our block'," she continued.
Not only are residents watching would-be burglars, they are reporting crimes to the Sheriff's Department, which led to a special two-day operation this week where deputies arrested 17 people.
Five people were taken into custody for felony warrants. Seven were arrested for misdemeanor warrants.
"What this indicates or shows to us is when neighbors start getting together or talking to each other and reporting criminal activity to us, we're abler to act on that activity and coordinate these enforcement operations to make some arrests and improve the quality of life in those neighborhoods," said Ray Pruitt, Kern County Sheriff's Department.
Pruitt said if you are a crime victim, always report it to law enforcement. It is the only way deputies can track what is going on in your neighborhood.