FACEBOOK can be more than just a gossip forum, according to Gerroa Eyewatch civilian co-ordinator Daniel Ford - it can help to solve crime.
The first of its kind in the Lake Illawarra Local Area Command, Project Eyewatch is currently in its early stages of recruitment, using Facebook to share crime prevention information and tip-offs between police and the public in real time.
The closed group will replace Gerroa Neighbourhood Watch, which wound up in 2010 after the state government withdrew its support for the program.
"It will make communication a lot quicker because people can post any time of the day or night and they wouldn't have to wait for a Neighbourhood Watch meeting," Mr Ford said.
"It'll probably get more people involved because they no longer have to physically attend the meeting, which might have been inconvenient."
However, Mr Ford said some residents were reluctant to use Facebook, given its reputation with older people.
"I've been trying to explain that it's not just kids posting what they did last night, it can be used for more serious uses," he said.
"Facebook is quite safe providing you do the right things signing up, and use it properly."
He said residents could keep their profiles private by posting minimal personal information and using strong passwords.
"I'm quite happy to come to their houses and walk them through the process, whether with joining Facebook or getting into the Eyewatch group, setting up an email address and so on," he said.
But he also hoped to hold two physical meetings a year.
"It's already a low crime area compared to other parts of the LILAC area, but by having a quicker feedback to police, one would hope it would have an effect of even lowering our crime rate," he said.
To be considered as an Eyewatch participant, send an email to police co-ordinator Sergeant Jason Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org, with your name, date of birth, address and driver's licence number.
Not eligible are those on the Child Protection Register, affiliated with criminal enterprises or gangs, or who have served more than five years in jail.