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New York Police Catch Burglars by Friending them on Facebook

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September 19, 2012
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New York Police Catch Burglars by Friending them on Facebook


With users now number over 900 million and a high-profile IPO (Initial Public Offering) behind it, Facebook faces many questions. Will Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg ever admit that he cares about the stock price (now less than half the IPO valuation of $38)? Can Facebook successfully manage the migration to mobile connectivity? And how about large multi-national advertisers? But we do know a couple of things already: burglars use Facebook to learn who’s away from home, and police are getting increasingly savvy about using Facebook to catch the bad guys. Here’s another great story about the latter trend – and I first read it in a technology publication!

As reported by the New York Daily News earlier this week, Brooklyn police officers were able to arrest an entire burglary gang called the Brower Boys by simply befriending the burglars on Facebook. Working in Crown Heights, Officer Michael Rodrigues sent friend requests to several members of the burglary crew and simply monitored status updates to piece together information about recent and upcoming heists. In one instance, a gang member posted “It’s break-in day on the avenue” on Facebook, thus allowing Rodrigues to monitor his actions during the day. The police had been aware of the gang’s activity for approximately one year, but were able to track the gang members to each burglary location after the Facebook post and film them in the act before arresting them.

Background on the Gang

The gang was made up of approximately fourteen teenagers ranging in ages from 13 to 19 and had focused on stealing electronics from empty apartments in order to sell the illegally-obtained goods to stores within the city. Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes indicated that the criminal behavior had escalated to violence recently with the sexual assault of a woman during a home invasion earlier this year. The entire crew faces a 102-count indictment for robbery and burglary as well as other more serious charges.

Not the Sharpest Tools in the Shed

According to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, the Brower Boys continued to use Facebook to organize criminal action even after becoming aware of other gangs in Brooklyn that were indicted during January 2012 when police used their posts on Twitter and Facebook as evidence against them. Instead, they joked about becoming targets of the police and continued to discuss how they would divide up cash received from the sale of stolen electronics. At least one member of the gang attempted to dissuade others from posting information about each theft on Facebook, but the others simply laughed at him.

Breaking into homes to steal cash, jewelry, electronics, guns, and prescription drugs wouldn’t be so easy if more people had monitored alarm systems. As long as only one in five homeowners signs up for affordable peace of mind, there’s little reason to expect that we’ll see any significant improvement in burglary stats: about one every 14 seconds, somewhere in the US. But it is good to know that police are getting smarter, and the criminals are just as stupid as ever. After all, they wouldn’t be criminals in the first place if they were smart!

FrontPoint knows all about protecting your home and family – it’s our highest priority. We’ll keep on sharing great tips and news when we find them: it’s our goal to be your resource for crime statistics, burglar behaviors, and the latest technologies to thwart intruders. After all, FrontPoint is the only alarm company in the country to use safer cellular monitoring in every system we’ve ever sold – and charge less for it. But what people really know us for is our smarter interactive level of monitoring. Make sure your home is protected: by FrontPoint, the leader in wireless home security, and the #1 ranked alarm company in the US.

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