Earlier this week, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department launched a new crime-mapping system. It's much easier to use, updated more frequently and you can even pull it up on your smartphone.
In the past week, there were more than 1,600 crimes reported to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
But say you want to know how many crimes occurred in a particular neighborhood or analyze trends. Let's take the South End/Dilworth area, near Price's Chicken Coop. You type in the address and the map shows about two dozen colorful icons, representing the crimes within a one-mile radius of the restaurant.
There's a small icon of a broken car about a block away from the store. Click on it and it will tell you what time the crime occurred: Sunday morning at 2:30.
Just two blocks over, someone was caught with possession of marijuana later that day.
Other colorful icons on the map like face masks and needles point out things like burglaries, alcohol violations, calls about suspicious people, motor vehicle theft and fraud.
Monica Nguyen is director of CMPD's Crime Analysis Division.
"The big reason to have this out there is to keep the public informed of what crimes are happening in their neighborhoods or where their businesses are located, so this will allow them to be able to stay on top of this in a very timely manner," Nguyen says.
She says the old system CMPD was not updated very often and used decade-old software. So they decided to outsource their data to a website called crimemapping.com. The site has partnerships with hundreds of police departments across the country and shows crime for a six-month period.
Now it's updated daily and you can get e-mail alerts of specific types of crimes or crimes in a certain neighborhood. An iPhone app also lets you see the most recent crimes wherever you are using geo-location.
Nguyen suspects the new system will be a popular tool for businesses and neighborhood watch groups, as well as people looking into schools or shopping for homes.
CMPD is one of seven police departments in the state to use this system. Greensboro, UNC Greensboro, High Point, Goldsboro, Henderson County and Huntersville Police have also signed up.