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I-Team: Paranoia Nextdoor

Is crime on the rise in the Coachella Valley?  If you regularly scroll through the social media site “Nextdoor” you might believe it’s true. While there are daily posts about lost pets or questions about how to find a handyman, the most popular have to do with crime.  

I-Team Reporter Karen Devine spoke with La Quinta resident Ray Santos who watched helplessly as his security cameras picked up a man stealing a package that had just been delivered, right off his porch.    

Santos has security cameras and a ring camera installed on his home, but that didn't stop the porch pirate.    

“That’s what’s kind of frustrating for me and that’s when I decided I’ll go ahead and post the video on "Nextdoor," said Santos.     

The video which shows two different angles of the man swiping the package immediately got the attention of registered "Nextdoor" users with 94 likes and 149 comments.     

Most people were sympathetic, others giving advice on what Santos should do, and then there were those who expressed their opinions about the lack of police attention to these types of crimes. According to Lieutenant Andy Martinez of the La Quinta Police Department, "All crimes matter and are investigated."      

He says, "Posting criminal activity on "Nextdoor" is more good than bad but the department does not monitor the site. Law enforcement should be the first point of contact when anytime anyone is victimized."     

When asked if he thinks the postings on "Nextdoor" fuel fears of increased crime, Lt. Martinez responded, "I think in a sense it may and it likely does, only because many people will never be victims of a crime.”    

“What I think happens on social media is people start living through other people’s experiences, and they start feeling as if they’re almost victimized themselves,” said Martinez.     

And, because a social media post can live on without an update, seeing it over and over again, he says, can continue to trigger fear.

According to Lt. Martinez, during the height of the pandemic, there was a shift in the types of crimes in the La Quinta community.     

“Violence within the home increased slightly for that period of time when we saw the decrease in property-related theft and crime,” said Martinez.    

But, for Ray Santos, his sense of security has been shaken by the package theft. He says he hopes others will just be aware it can happen to them. 

“I think the more people that post, the better it is, and actually, people are informed that it’s really happening out there."    

Devine reached out to "Nextdoor" to find out if they had statistics on the percentage of posts that are crime related and if they had a comment about the possibility of those types of posts triggering fear in the community. According to a "Nextdoor" spokesperson, they don't have any statistics available but they did send a statement expressing the importance of the community forum.     

"A wide variety of public agencies including mayors, governors, fire departments, police departments, and health departments use "Nextdoor" to share critical, real-time information at the neighborhood level." 

Devine requested crime statistics for each valley city for 2020 and 2021 to see if there has been an increase in the types of crimes typically posted on the "Nextdoor" site. 

If you'd like to see how your city is doing and compare it to the others below:

City of Indio

Types of Calls20202021
Illegal Shooting (Negligent discharge of a firearm)13793
Fireworks810414
Shots Fired (Gunfire Heard in the Area)433283
Car Break-In 142129
Mail Theft (No specified code in Alliance until mid-2021)-23
Source: Indio Police Department

Palm Springs

Types of Calls20202021
Shooting at Residence3031
Vehicle Burglary265297
Fireworks209105
Shots Fired239190
Source: Palm Springs Police Department

La Quinta

Types of Calls20202021
Illegal Shooting Calls4317
Firework Calls2210
Shots Calls30
Car Break-Ins2124
Mail Theft813
Source: Riverside County Sheriff's Department

Desert Hot Springs

Types of Calls20202021
Shooting Calls6061
Fireworks791414
Shots Calls39981
Car Break-In79158
Mail Theft16
Source: Desert Hot Springs Police Department

Cathedral City

Types of Calls20202021
Illegal Shootings2133
Fireworks1065207
Shots 240162
Car Break-Ins5845
Mail Theft6641
Source: Cathedral City Police Department

Palm Desert

Types of Calls20202021
Illegal Shootings159
Fireworks7565
Shots59
Car Break-Ins333414
Mail Theft2630
Source: Riverside County Sheriff's Department

Rancho Mirage

Types of Calls20202021
Illegal Shootings52
Fireworks1218
Shots14
Car Break-Ins118174
Mail Theft2119
Source: Riverside County Sheriff's Department

Indian Wells:

Types of Calls20202021
Illegal Shootings11
Fireworks43
Shots00
Car Break-Ins1524
Mail Theft23
Source: Riverside County Sheriff's Department

Coachella

Types of Calls20202021
Illegal Shootings199139
Fireworks41190
Shots101
Car Break-Ins8396
Mail Theft3014
Source: Riverside County Sheriff's Department

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Karen Devine

Karen Devine is celebrating her 29th year delivering the local news as an anchor and reporter in the Palm Springs television market. Learn more about Karen here.

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