Actions, a social network, is partnering with law enforcement agencies in the Tampa Bay area

Posted at 1:33 PM, Aug 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-11 18:43:19-04

Thomas Penafiel is taking policing into his own hands.

The Parrish resident told ABC Action News he immediately knew something was wrong when he started driving to work the morning of August 5.

He first noticed his car smelled like smoke.  Then, he noticed his change cup was gone.  Finally, he realized his Apple watch was also missing.

Penafiel did what any crime victim would do, he called the Manatee County Sheriff's Office and filed a police report.

But, he did something else that got thousands of eyes on his case and surveillance video of the suspects taken from home camera.

With the permission of deputies, he uploaded the surveillance video to, a social network accessible by computer and via an app, that allows neighbors to communicate for free.

"There has been almost a thousand views on Youtube for that video, couple leads have come back, some people say they recognize them," said Penafiel.

According to company officials, almost 2,000 communities around the Bay area use the network and 200 of those communities are in Tampa proper.

Topics on the social network range from local events, to crime, lost pets and even shows which homes are handing out candy on Halloween. 

"It really helps you to talk to your neighbors, people you have never met before," Penafiel explained.

The company is now partnering with local law enforcement agencies.

In March, St. Pete PD announced they partnered with the company.

"We now have over a thousand partnerships with these kinds of agencies across the country--so when you join Nextdoor you will not only be able to tap into your neighbors, you will be able to tap into all the great utilities around you as well," explained Co-Founder/CEO Nirav Tolia.

According to Manatee County Sheriff's Office Spokesperson Dave Bristow, they are not partnered with the company but believe it can be a useful tool to solve crimes.

Bristow advised crime victims to first ask investigators if it is OK to post something up.  He says in some cases, posting information could hinder an investigation.

In Penafiel's case, detectives gave him the go-ahead.

"It also let all my neighbors know that morning, hey everybody, check your cars," Penafiel added.

To learn more about click here.