You’d think the last thing a criminal would want to do is call attention to their crime, right? Well, think again! Leland Gregory, author of a book called The Stupid Crook Book, says that videos of crimes are being posted on websites like YouTube and MySpace by the criminals who committed them! Why? Because they’re proud of what they did – and want to show off their escapades to as many people as they can. That pride is sending them to prison. Like the teenager in Florida who posted a video of herself beating up another girl. The police found the clip, identified her, and arrested her for assault. Or the two Winnipeg teens who posted a first-person, white-knuckle, street-racing clip on the Internet, and soon found the police knocking on their door.
Basically, police departments everywhere are adding the Internet to their arsenal of crime-fighting tools. Courses are being offered at the Canadian Police College about using the Internet as an investigative tool. A lot of officers see YouTube as the Internet’s version of America’s Most Wanted, and have started posting their own crime videos online. Mostly those grainy security camera images of unsolved convenience store robberies, bank robberies, and sidewalk assaults – with information on how to provide tips to catch the perpetrators. Perhaps the most-publicized example came in Hamilton, Ontario, where police posted a 72-second surveillance video on YouTube in December, hoping to find the assailant in a fatal stabbing outside a hip-hop concert. Detective Jorge Lasso said that the video ultimately received more than 35-thousand hits and police had enough information within two weeks to make an arrest. On the flip side, groups that monitor police behavior have been using YouTube to post videos of arrests they think involve excessive force. So it seems to work both ways – for and against the police.