Ning in the wild: Magnolia neighborhood burglary social network in Seattle

From Bill Gossman and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

The broken fence was Paige MacMillan’s first clue. Then she saw the muddy footprints all over her carpet, desk and chest drawers flung open — and family valuables gone.

The thief or thieves kicked Maggie, the family beagle prone to loud barking, MacMillan said, “so they could finish ransacking our house.” The dog, who was shut in a basement closet, yelped when touched in the stomach…

The MacMillans’ rented house is one of about 30 homes and businesses burglarized in Magnolia the past few months, an unusual crime wave for an area of well-to-do and middle-class folks. The break-ins have sent exasperated neighbors online for support — and they have pressed the Seattle Police Department to step up patrols.

“I’ve lived here 11 years and never seen anything like this,” said Bill Gossman, a Magnolia resident who about two weeks ago started a neighborhood Web site [on Ning] that he dubbedsleeplessinmagnolia.ning.com.

The social network, Gossman said, has received 55,000 page views and brought together 550 block-watching neighbors to share information, tips and experiences…

My deep sympathies to the residents of the Magnolia neighborhood — that sucks.

But it’s great to see how Ning can help… a perfect example of your own social network for a topic deeply relevant to your life.