YouTube – crime fighting superhero?

A few years ago we started seeing police departments and local officials use YouTube to help solve crimes and catch criminals. It seems to have worked with varying degrees of success from case to case, yet the video-sharing Web site has grown in popularity with law enforcement. It is a great way to post surveillance video to a wide audience and use the public to help identify suspects leading to an arrest.

The proliferation of video surveillance systems, both public and private, means there is a lot more security video available. Criminals caught in the act on video are becoming more and more commonplace. Once officials have the video they have to be able to use it to track down suspects. That is where YouTube comes into play. Posting on the site guarantees a large number of people will view the security video and ups the chances of a positive identification.

Recently the Los Angeles Police Department went to the public through YouTube to help them identify members of the burglary crew nicknamed the "Drill Lock Burglars.” The burglars enter apartments by drilling holes in doors and locks. They broke into one apartment and took suitcases and plastic bags filled with items. Police believe they are responsible for other burglaries in the city.

Surveillance cameras caught the burglars entering and exiting the building. The LAPD has posted the video on YouTube and is asking the public for help in identifying the suspects. It remains to be seen if the YouTube posting will work, but it has in other cases. Some police departments and communities even have their own YouTube channels for posting video.

Of course there is also the criminal who gives the police a helping hand by posting the video of their crimes on YouTube themselves. Police departments have caught on and many have computer specialists who regularly check social media outlets for incriminating photos and video. As one police officer said, they bring new meaning to the term “dumb crook.”


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