The inspiration for CrimeReports.com came a decade ago when Greg Whisenant made the mistake of letting a stranger, who turned out to be a burglar, into his apartment building in Arlington, Va.
At a neighborhood meeting that soon followed, Whisenant was surprised to hear a woman say she had been followed in a parking lot. Whisenant pondered how technology could make a difference.
“Why can’t we have some kind of alert system that would tell me something like that?” he wondered.
Now he has created it. A new service on CrimeReports.com, launched last year and expanding nationwide, overlays police reports on maps, so people can view where arrests and other police calls have been made. Users can configure e-mail alerts to notify them of crimes in locations of interest within a day.
The free site relies mainly on police departments paying $100 or $200 a month, depending on their size, to have CrimeReports.com extract the information from their internal systems and publish it online. Public Engines LLC, Whisenant’s seven-person company in Salt Lake City, pledges to post no ads on the site.
About 40 law enforcement agencies have signed up, including police in San Jose, Calif., and several Utah jurisdictions. The site also captures and posts information from departments such as the one in Chicago that do not pay Public Engines because they had built their own links into their records.