02/20/2013 05:25 EST | Updated 04/22/2013 05:12 EDT

Just Committed a Crime? Tweet About it and Give Cops a Break


There's no way that I could pull off being a criminal -- not a chance. The first indicator of this came when I was seven years old and stole a Batman figure from a movie store, only to break down crying the moment I walked out. I promptly returned the stolen property and apologized. Funny part is, immediately thereafter, I asked my father if this meant that I couldn't be a lawyer. Once again, I was a seven-year-old child. If that doesn't illustrate the pressures of Jewish Day School, what does?

Granted that I developed thicker skin as I got older, as times changed, something new entered into my life that would be the ultimate reason why I could never pursue criminal activity: I became a full fledged, card carrying social media junkie. And let me tell you something about the Web 2.0 prison I live in -- everything gets posted, especially when it involves career and business developments. So if I were a criminal, that probably means I'd be tweeting stuff like "...just stole 3 cartons of cigarettes from the corner store! 30 % discount - private message me for details!! #stolen #cigarettes" (I must admit, it seems easier than knocking on each person's door and making face-to-face sales).

OK, so maybe I'm being a little silly. But the truth is, I'm not that far off. Social Media has evolved into an invaluable tool for law enforcement professionals to track crime. Furthermore, nowadays, there is story after story being written about criminals that do stupid things online to get busted, and they have only themselves to blame.

I thought it would be interesting to explore a few of these instances, where the combination of bad decisions and social media brought people to justice:

Brooklyn, NY: Fourteen gang members committed a series of violent crimes, befriended a cop on Facebook and then uploaded a video of the crime, which included footage of an argument over division of "loot." Needless to say, all 14 criminals were busted. Talk about guilty beyond a reasonable doubt!

Calima, Columbia:A brilliant young man committed an armed robbery at an Internet café. However, prior to committing the crime, he logged into Facebook and forgot to log out. This made it very easy for the cops to bust him. It's kind of like handing the cops your own warrant for arrest.

Palmetta, Florida: Two high school girls got into a physical fight at school, and one of the girls' mothers was present. The mother was encouraging her daughter to "fight and win"! Little did she know that she was busted on video camera. The video was then uploaded onto Youtube -- only for the mother to face charges of child abuse and neglect. It's always nice to know that positive role models do exist.

London, England: Police utilized social media to crack down on crime by asking citizens to upload photos to [police operated] Tumblr and Flickr accounts: To Catch a Looter. Check out this picture of one looter -- he just looks so content with his new findings!


Photo Credit: The Blaze

Vancouver, Canada: When the Vancouver Canucks lost the NHL Stanley Cup Final in 2011, rioters went on a looting binge. One such looter, 23-year-old Camille Cacino, was seen smiling on camera as she happily stole a pair of pants. Despite her academic achievements at the University of British Columbia, Ms. Cacino made a split second decision that she, the justice system and the online community will never forget. Despite her heartfelt apologies, doesn't it look like she's just having a blast?


Photo Credit: The National Post

So, what's the point of all this? I promise, it's not just to make fun of the people who have dealt with the harsh ramifications of poor decisions. The thing is, if we don't take a minute to soak in just how public of a life we now live, then we can't govern ourselves accordingly. And how should we govern ourselves in this new digital age? Simple: If you don't want it on camera, don't do it.

Dumb Crime 2012