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Neighborhood Watch goes high-tech in Parkside

   Parkside is a close-knit, diverse neighborhood whose residents keep an eye out for each other and remain politically active.

   Those close ties strengthened over the past eight months after residents turned to e-mail lists to warn their neighbors of a spike in home break-ins, burglaries and other thefts.

   Quality-of-life crimes are a nagging concern in this section of Buffalo that wraps around Delaware Park, and last August and December saw two periods when such incidents increased sharply.

   In the past, the Parkside Community Association and block club leaders in the area would issue warnings by phone tree, flier or newsletter in response to a crime wave.

   But starting last August, the association and the block clubs began to forward to all of their members the e-mails they received from crime victims and neighborhood witnesses.

   Some of the e-mails, which often include detailed descriptions or even photos of suspects, led to arrests.

   Buffalo police, community leaders, city officials and others say the e-mail lists are a good example of how a neighborhood can proactively fight back against crime.

   But Parkside certainly isn't the only neighborhood where engaged residents keep in touch with their neighbors.

   We'd like to hear from people in other city or suburban neighborhoods that are home to their own community-based initiatives.

   And is anyone aware of a similar e-mail warning system that led to a break in a criminal case?

   -- Stephen T. Watson

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