Internet to catch a thief

KELLY DENNETT
Last updated 05:00 16/01/2014
Avanti team
Kelly Dennett

UNIMPRESSED: Avanti Plus Waitakere owners Catherine, left, and Jeff Webb with employee and social media co-ordinator Alan Parry.

Security footage Bmx theft
VIDEO EVIDENCE: Security footage of a BMX thief was posted on You Tube by Avanti Plus Waitakere.

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Sherlock Holmes would have been out of a job in 2014.

Gone are the days of smoking pipes, magnifying glasses and wanted posters.

Now people are increasingly turning to social media to catch criminals.

When a thief made off with a $650 BMX bike at Avanti Plus Waitakere, employee Alan Parry, 36, didn't think twice about posting their security footage online.

The cameras clearly show a young man dressed in a blue sweatshirt wheeling the bike out of the Universal Drive shop before cycling away.

The YouTube video was posted online on January 8 and has already had more than 4000 views.

"I just thought it was the only way to get it out there in the community," Mr Parry says.

"The more people that see it the better."

The company's Facebook page has more than 900 likes and nearly 100 of their fans have shared the video link and photographs of the alleged offender.

With such a loyal online cycling community, Mr Parry believes many of them would take the injustice just as personally as the owners Catherine and Jeff Webb.

Although they haven't caught the thief yet Mr Parry says they've received many phone calls.

It will also serve as a warning to potential future offenders, he says.

"Anybody who sees that video will go OK they've got cameras."

Waitemata district prevention manager Inspector Les Paterson says police and businesses have to move with the times.

"We're going into the digital era," he says.

"Cameras can zoom in incredible distances now. People are building multi digital platforms with facial recognition technology.

"We have to face facts, that's where we're going."

Police often use Facebook to help find offenders and the public generally respond more to shots of criminals in action.

"They'd always go for those ones.

"For some reason the warrant photos seem to be boring for them."

He's not surprised business owners use social media to their advantage and they are perfectly entitled to do so although there are caveats, he says.

"If you've got people in your shop and then you publish pictures of these people and it turns out they're innocent they would have some kind of privacy case against you," he says.

Another critical rule is that the person must be aged at least 17.

He advises businesses to get advice from police before posting photographs or information online.

Do you know this person?

Avanti Plus Waitakere is still looking for the BMX thief.

The bike was stolen from the store on January 5 by a man who appeared to be between 18 and 25.

He was dressed in a blue Nike hooded sweatshirt.

Contact Avanti Plus on 837 0680 or Henderson Police Station if you have any information. 

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