The Nextdoor app is an application that makes a private investigator’s job just a bit more difficult during a surveillance. I had only heard about the Nextdoor app a few months ago from another private investigator when he shared his concerning story with me. I will explain what the app is with you, what it can do and provide a review of it. I will then share the concerning story that a private investigator shared with me recently related to this app.
What is the Nextdoor app?
The Nextdoor app is essentially a neighborhood watch community on steroids. This app allows you to connect with your neighbor in your neighborhood (if they have the app) to discuss or share things with neighbors.
For example, if your car was broken into you could share the incident with your neighbors and ask them if they saw anything suspicious or knew anything about the incident. Even if your neighbors had no additional information about the incident they could still use the information as a word of caution to stay alert regarding riff raff in their neighborhood area.
In many ways, this app reminds me of facebook because of the app layout and how neighbors can have profiles (relatively limited profiles).
There is also a recommendation section for various services in the neighborhood area including the following:
- Auto Mechanics
- Coffee Shops
- Breakfast and Brunch
- Grocery Stores
- Burger Restaurants
You can also search categories associated with your neighborhood area which include:
- For Sale and Free
- Real Estate
- Crime and Safety
- Lost and Found
How is the Nextdoor app used?
Alerting neighbors of police activity
Neighbors will mention that police were seen at a residence or in specific areas dealing with incidents.
Alerting neighbors to suspicious people in your neighborhood
In my neighborhood, there is an alert from a neighbor at least once a week regarding a suspicious person in the area. Usually, there is a description of the person, a photo of the person and the reason why they think the person is suspicious. Recently our neighborhood received a message that there was a woman walking down neighborhood alleys photographing vehicles and homes. The neighbor even provided a photo of the person so neighbors knew what the woman looked like.
Alerting neighbors if pets are missing, found or on the loose
At least once a week someone is either sharing that their pet is missing or someone is sharing that they found a pet. When a pet is missing or found neighbors will take pictures and share the photo with the neighborhood in the hopes of the pet being reunited with the owner.
I don’t see it very often but once in awhile, a neighbor will try to sell something on the app.
Alerting neighbors of yard sales
Informing the neighborhood of your yard sale is a great way to get some customers to buy your stuff and a chance for you to meet a neighbor in person.
Asking for recommendations in regards to contractors
Finding a good plumber or contractor can be tricky sometimes. Getting a good recommendation from a happy customer can make a big difference.
Coordinating in-person neighborhood meetings
There are meetings for neighbors that are scheduled periodically. These dates, times and locations are shared on the Nextdoor app.
Alerting neighbors of criminal activity
This is always being shared in my neighborhood. Anything that looks like criminal activity or if something has already happened it will be shared on the app.
Allowing Law Enforcement to alert neighborhoods and make announcements
Though I don’t recall this happening in my neighborhood there are many news sources that indicate that law enforcement is teaming up with communities through the Nextdoor app for public announcements.
How Have I Used the Nextdoor App?
I am hyper-aware of my neighborhood surroundings. Anytime anything ever happens in my neighborhood bubble I can only warn about 5 immediate neighbors.
With this app, I can put everyone in my vicinity on alert should something be of concern in my neighborhood. Usually, I will take a picture of the individual of concern and post it.
On one occasion there as a couple on a moped-riding through the back alleyways of my neighborhood. I followed it like any concerned neighbor/private investigator would do and took photos of the individuals. I shared what I saw and told the neighborhood to be on the lookout.
About 10 minutes after I posted my concern I received a message from a neighbor saying something to the effect of, “No, they are ok. That is my son and daughter in law looking for our lost cat. They both have jobs”.
I chuckled when I saw that but it was nice to know that there was a response and it was something we as a neighborhood didn’t have to be concerned with.
How Does The Nextdoor App Affect Private Investigators – Here is the Story
I can only imagine you have an idea of how this app affects private investigators but I will share the story anyway.
My investigator friend Brian with the Cyber Investigative Agency was on a surveillance awhile back and a neighbor approached his surveillance position. The neighbor asked what he was doing and Brian provided a pretext to justify his presence. The neighbor believed him or didn’t (I don’t think anyone knows for sure) and decided to take a picture of Brian’s vehicle before he departed the area.
A neighbor taking a picture of a private investigator’s vehicle isn’t uncommon and I don’t think Brian was particularly worried about it.
Approximately 30 minutes or so later another neighbor approached his vehicle and questioned him about his presence in the neighborhood. He told Brian that he was alerted to Brian being in the neighborhood because a neighbor posted his vehicle photo and description on the Nextdoor app. Brian was stunned and concerned as he had never heard of the app until that conversation. Brian was able to finish his surveillance efforts but was aware that he was being watched in the neighborhood.
Brian told me a month or two after that incident he was working a different surveillance and a police officer arrived at his location. The police officer approached his vehicle and did the normal questioning regarding his presence there. The officer went on to tell him that the neighborhood was communicating about his presence in the neighborhood through the Nextdoor app and that is why he was checking on Brian. Brian couldn’t believe the neighborhood he was in was also using the app. I couldn’t believe that it happened to him a second time.
Final Thoughts on the Nextdoor app and Private Investigators
For me personally, I always work a surveillance assuming that neighbors are watching what I do in a neighborhood whether I can see them or not when conducting surveillance. I am always assuming that a few neighbors have each other’s phone numbers and communicate with each other to some degree.
I think the Nextdoor app takes neighborhood surveillance to a different level and will make things harder for surveillance investigators. It hasn’t affected me (at least to my knowledge) but I am sure the time will come.
So for surveillance investigators, I would just say be careful, covert and on guard in neighborhoods. I think this app is brilliant and extremely useful. It is also something that could be very annoying for a surveillance investigator especially if the focus of the surveillance (the person you are watching) is made aware of your presence through the Nextdoor app.
Here is the Nextdoor app for Android
Here is the Nextdoor app for iPhone
If you have the app let me know how you like it and what your experience has been with the app either as a neighbor or private investigator.