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Triangle neighbors meet, help through website

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Tabby Vos started a section on nextdoor.com for her neighborhood. She serves as moderator. Tabby Vos started a section on nextdoor.com for her neighborhood. She serves as moderator.
DURHAM, N.C. -

If you're like most people these days, you probably don't know your neighbors that well.

A website rooted in neighborhoods around the nation, including in the Triangle, aims to change that.

Nextdoor.com is a free, nationwide website that allows people to connect with the people around them.

"It's so hard knowing anybody but your direct neighbors on either side," said Tabby Vos, who lives in a Durham subdivision with about 300 neighbors.

She created a page on nextdoor.com for her community and moderates it.

Vos said people can connect for a variety of reasons – from finding a babysitter, to creating groups based on interests within a neighborhood. And, they can help locate missing pets, sell things, even give stuff away.

She recently ordered too much gravel for her house and needed to give away about half of her pile, so she made a post.

"I said, ‘Somebody please come save me from all this gravel in my driveway and it was gone within a day," Vos said.

The added benefit was that she got to know her neighbors.

"It's a good way to keep your pulse on the neighborhood without having to call people up," she said.

Right now close to 65 neighborhoods in Durham are active on nextdoor.com. That's about 3,400 members. One of the newest ones is the Durham County Sheriff's Office. They launched their nextdoor.com effort this week.

"If we here at the sheriff's office have seen several incidents of say burglaries, or vehicle thefts or break-ins to cars in a concentrated area, we can send a message to that neighborhood, if they're on Nextdoor," said Deputy Paul Sherwin, public information officer for the agency.

The Durham County Sheriff's Office is the first law enforcement or government agency in North Carolina to join the site. Sherwin sees the website as a smarter way for people to interact. It can serve as a modern-day community watch.

"The more active and alert and aware they are of what's going on in their community, we think will help reduce crime in those areas," he said.

Vos said she was glad to hear about the sheriff's office involvement because she doesn't normally seek out postings on law enforcement websites.

"Now we can have a direct line to Durham County Sheriff's and get that information from them and just sort of have a connection to them," she said.

The sheriff's office will only be able to make posts to neighborhood pages and see the replies.

"People who are on Nextdoor don't need to have a fear of ‘big brother' coming in and watching and listening to what they're doing in their own neighborhoods," Sherwin said.

People must be verified and use their real names when joining nextdoor.com

"There's basically three ways. One, they will mail you a postcard to your physical mailing address with a verification code. The other one is they will call a land line connected to your home. They have a third option where if I know you, and I'm on Nextdoor, I can verify that you live next to me," Sherwin said.

"You can be comfortable in knowing that you're sharing information and communicating with people who actually live near you," he said.

Nextdoor.com launched nationwide in 2011 and was founded in California.

In Raleigh, 149 neighborhoods use Nextdoor, 21 use it in Chapel Hill and 7 in Fayetteville.

Justin Quesinberry

Justin is a reporter for WNCN and a North Carolina native. He has spent the better part of the last decade covering the news in central North Carolina.  More>>

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