Facebook 'most wanted' nets arrests

MARYKE PENMAN
Last updated 05:00 20/12/2012
Les Paterson
FACEBOOK: North Shore Police area commander Inspector Les Paterson is happy with results from using the social network.

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Facebook has proved an effective crime fighting tool for police trying to track down wanted criminals.

North Shore Police area commander Inspector Les Paterson said two groups of burglars have been arrested as a result of police Facebook posts in the past few weeks.

A group of three burglars who saw their photos on the North Shore Police Most Wanted page gave themselves up and another group of three were identified after security camera footage of them was posted.

"That's a considerable number of potential victims that won't be burgled because these guys are now out of action," Paterson said.

Some police Facebook posts have reached up to 10,000 people, he said.

Those who drive off without paying for petrol are also being outed on the page with help from the public.

"The offenders often use stolen number plates on their cars, but police have other tools for identifying them using our Facebook site."
 
Paterson said police were looking to inform retailers and security organisations on how to catch criminals with their own social media pages.

"The police have to be careful that we don't simply become a security company by default.

"Retailers and those in the security industry have the option of debt collection which incurs a penalty fee of it's own as a defacto punishment, or if necessary, providing offender details to police to make the arrest."
 
Police are looking to other online channels to get around the legal and functionality issues that have so far limited their Facebook usage, Paterson said.

The North Shore will continue to have an online "Most Wanted" facility, however.

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