Tampa Police detectives are urging people to contact them first when they want to report a crime before posting it on social media.
At a community forum Thursday evening, detectives shared how they use social media. They showed a video of a man, they said, stole tools from a home. They posted the same surveillance clip on Nextdoor, warning others about the crime and asking for tips. Officers said communicating virtually with people is huge.
"Obviously huge wins with social media and with the ability to quickly communicate, but we still have to be cognizant to make sure that the information we're putting out there is factually accurate," Janelle McGregor with Tampa PD said.
Police said accuracy isn't the only problem. Sometimes people share information before they report the crime.
"Often times we'll come across posts on social media that haven't been reported to law enforcement, which is a disadvantage for us because that's a crime that we're not working to solve," McGregor said.
Harold Moore is the neighborhood watch coordinator for Davis Islands and he said he wants to make sure people are reporting crimes with law enforcement first too.
"But after the fact, if a person wants to go on Nextdoor and say yeah I saw this and this happened and I called the police that's fine because it alerts everybody else on there to watch out for a particular thing," Moore said.
Moore said he definitely sees the advantages.
"It's become a nice vehicle for safety and also for crime detection," Moore said.
Detectives said people need to call 911 for an emergency and always remember to call their non emergency number to report a crime too.