App helps East Cannington residents to keep suburb safe

Neville Lobo flanked by neighbours Elise, Saskia and Marlie Carle, Lucille Lobo, Jesse Jacobs and Inderjit Singh.        Picture: Pia van Straalen
Neville Lobo flanked by neighbours Elise, Saskia and Marlie Carle, Lucille Lobo, Jesse Jacobs and Inderjit Singh.        Picture: Pia van Straalen

WHEN Neville Lobo moved in to East Cannington in 2011, he looked forward to settling in to a quiet suburban life with his family.

That night, his home was burgled.

He said he was not afraid – instead, rather empowered – and set out to establish a Community Watch-style network with his new neighbours to stop similar crimes happening again.

The virtual community now known as Harmony Beyond Fences began as a directory of emergency numbers and today it has grown into an online community linking more than 85 homes though the smartphone application WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is a mobile messaging app that allows groups of people to chat for free and members can report suspicious activity or issue reminders to other members of the group.

“I thought, how do we take this beyond just Facebook, and I thought why not use Whats-App,” Mr Lobo said.

“It’s a brilliant idea and that’s the unity of our area.”

Cannington Police and the City of Canning are among the group’s members.

“When I first moved to this area, there was a lot of antisocial behaviour, but you just don’t see it any more,” Mr Lobo said.

“We haven’t had an incident in our street for a year and a half.”

Mr Lobo said he hoped to see the the initiative extend throughout the suburb.