Doorbell surveillance company 'Ring' launches app to help neighbors fight crime

New 'Neighbors' app allows posting of surveillance

TAMPA — Move over neighborhood watch. There's a new guardian in town and it fits in the palm of your hand. Amazon-owner Ring, the same ones behind the doorbell video surveillance systems, has launched an app called Neighbors. But the question is: does it goo too far?

In December, an intruder broke into the home of Andrea Sofarelli. Her Ring caught the man on camera.

"There's a man two feet away from my bed telling me to put a pillow over my head," she recounted.

Thankfully Sofarelli had two saving graces: her barking dog that scared the intruder away, and her Ring.

"In my case they [police] couldn't pull any prints," she said. "So if it wasn't for my video and the video going viral police would have absolutely nothing to go on."

The new Neighbors app is meant to empower neighbors and help them fight crime. An interactive map allows neighbors to post texts, pictures or videos of crimes or suspicious activities.

But unlike NextDoor you won't see furniture on sale or inquiries about lost pets. It's all strictly crime.

The Neighbors network was previously available in the ring app but this new stand alone app means it works more like a social media network where everyone can be in the know even if they don't own a Ring. However, you can only see posts from around your neighborhood.

But there are still some concerns.

"I think it's great for security purposes but I think there will be a problem with our privacy issues and maybe some racial profiling," said Sofarelli.

Steve Hegarty with Tampa Police Department says he's not aware of how the company will police that. But on TPD's end, they only step in if an actual crime has been committed. He also says the app is very promising. Most importantly it will help them speed up investigations. Instead of having to physically show up to request video they can now ask for permission through the app or by calling.

"What we are talking about here is something that is much quicker, much easier and probably much cleaner, and it's really good video too," he said.

Police also have the ability to send out alerts based on crime trends. Ring's own news team will post alerts on street closures and fires, to name a few.

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