South Jacksonville Police say that a recent mailer sent to several residents asking them to join an online neighborhood page is legitimate.
South Jacksonville residents received letters last week asking them to join a free app called Nextdoor. The letters were addressed to either Michigan or Greenwood Streets and came from an address on Bonnie Lane.
On Friday, South Jacksonville Police posted an excerpt of the letter on the department’s Facebook page to alert residents with concerns that the department was looking into the matter.
South Jacksonville Chief of Police, Eric Hansell says police were approached by a Village Trustee who had received one of the letters from their neighbor who had concerns if the website was legitimate.
Hansell says after looking into the matter, the website indeed appeared to be legitimate. He says the announcement Friday was out of an abundance of caution while police checked it out due to the increased reports of scams since the start of the pandemic.
“We looked into the person listed as Your Neighbor in the letter living on Bonnie Lane, and the police department has not had any contact with that person, and no way to contact them by phone. So we just basically put out on our Facebook page- hey look, there is a mailing that is going around town. We don’t know that it’s legitimate, we don’t know that it’s not legitimate.
But neighbors should be concerned about stuff that’s mailed out with the amount of scams and mail that goes out. They should just be cautious when they sign up for things online and be cautious with providing their personal information online.”
In mid-October, the Masonic Lodge in Jacksonville and at least one church in the area received manifestos taped to their doors as a part of a larger effort by a pair of individuals who have been hand-delivering the packets in a three-state area, including over 400 locations in Illinois.
Hansell says because of instances like this, and the growing number of reports of people being robbed during a meeting with someone they agreed to sell an item to over social media, police can’t be too careful when it comes to investigating anything that could be perceived as an online or mail scam or threat.
He says going forward, it would be helpful to everyone if anyone soliciting neighbors could give the police a head’s up so they know it’s a genuine offer and not another scam.
“As far as the Greenwood Avenue neighbors and the Nextdoor.com, it appears to be a legitimate website. If the person that is sending out the letter wants to make contact with the police department and let us know about it, that would be great.
Anytime something like this goes out, a solicitation, if they could let us know in advance then we can cut straight to the chase if somebody calls us and asks if it’s legitimate or not, then we already know. But when we have no information and go off of what we look at as far as the letterhead and the envelope it went out in, you know we have to be cautious.”
Hansell says it appears Nextdoor dot com is a way for neighbors to connect about things like yard sales, or any kind of neighborhood news and events, and that the resident who sent the letters seems to have had good intentions in reaching out.