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MUNSTER — A smartphone app that aims to reduce crime by connecting residents, security cameras and police is now available to Munster residents and police.

The Munster Police Department announced Thursday they are joining the free “Neighbors” app by Ring to network with real-time crime and safety information.

“The partnership between Ring and the Munster Police Department will allow the department to send real-time alerts to the community about local crime in specific areas,”said. “Officers can also send out safety alerts to the community. The Munster Police Department can request information about local crime and safety issues from community members who can choose to OPT-IN to sharing for a specific request.”

The network has millions of users and has helped catch package thieves and stop burglaries, the Munster police Department said.

Residents can text ‘StaySafe’ to 555888 from their smartphone to download the Neighbors app cost-free on iOS and Android smartphones. Through the app, they can join their neighborhood, share crime and safety-related videos, photos and posts, while receiving real-time safety alerts from their neighbors, police and the Ring team. The tips shared through the app are anonymous, but users can choose to share their contact information.

One thing police cautioned is that the app is not supposed to replace calling 911. Residents should still call 911 if they witness a crime or suspicious activity.

Residents do not have to have a Ring device or any other type of security system to download and use the Neighbors app. No user data or surveillance camera locations is shared without prior consent of the device owner, the Munster Police Department said.

Police can only view posts that users share publicly and they do not have access to users’ devices, video or data, police said.

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Breaking News/Crime Reporter

Anna Ortiz is the breaking news/crime reporter for The Times, covering crime, politics, courts, investigative news and more. She is a Region native and graduate of Ball State University with a major in journalism and minor in anthropology.