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Neighbors help fight crime with Facebook

12:27 AM, Feb 7, 2013   |    comments
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The efforts of a neighborhood watch group led to five arrests and 35 charges.

Over a three-month period, Knoxville Police Department says five suspects broke into 13 homes, mostly in Sequoyah Hills.

Lawrence Shumaker, 32, Kendra Hurst, 25, Katti Hurst, 24, Brittany Smalley, 28, and Steven Houston, 23 are charged with various counts of aggravated burglary, felony thefts, and misdemeanor thefts.

The Kingston Pike Sequoyah Hills Association found that Facebook was helpful in spreading information about the suspects quickly.

Edward Nicholson was one of the victims of the burglaries. The suspects took two TVs, a laptop, money and prescription drugs from his home.

"We were really lucky that was all they took," Nicholson said.

But he didn't want it to happen to anyone else, so he posted on their neighborhood watch Facebook page.

"Within a couple of hours it was on Facebook and other people knew what was going on, knew there was activity in the neighborhood, and knew to keep their eyes open," he said.

They weren't the only ones sharing information.

"The entire neighborhood was on high alert," said vice president of the Kingston Pike Sequoyah Hills Association, Sallie Namey.

She said the page began buzzing with posts about suspicious people in the neighborhood.

Similar stories kept popping up. Someone would come to the door and ask for Jessica. If someone answered, they would move to the next house.

KPD said it was the group's way of scoping out which homes were empty.

In addition to filing police reports, the neighborhood association gave investigators all of the information they had gathered on the page.

It was surveillance video posted by one neighbor that led to the arrests -- in addition to pawn shop records.

"We are incredibly thankful and proud of not just our neighborhood but the Knoxville Police Department," said Namey.

Now residents say they can rest a little easier knowing their neighbors are looking out for them.

KPD says active neighborhood watches are very helpful in investigations.

If you see suspicious activity, they ask you to immediately fill out this suspicious activity form on their website.

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