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Is Facebook the new Neighbourhood Watch?

11 Jan 2012

For the second time in a month, people committing crimes have gone viral on Facebook, as users bid to turn the network into the new Neighbourhood Watch.

Over Christmas, thousands of users circulated an image of a burglar caught in the act by a CCTV camera, in a bid to learn the culprit’s name so that the police could be informed. 

Now, a 28-second video (warning: coarse language) of three women assaulting staff at a Countdown supermarket in Rotorua has been spread around the network, after being taken by a customer parked in the carpark. 

The staff members were attempting to stop the women leaving the premises due to an alleged theft; two of the culprits have subsequently been arrested.

However, while police acknowledge that video footage was helpful to their inquiries, they say they would prefer it be given directly to police rather than uploaded to YouTube.

Also, instead of videoing crimes on their phones, eyewitnesses can call 111 so that police can attend the incident while it’s happening, a police spokesperson told the NZ Herald.

"We’d prefer that they ring us on 111... we’d prefer not to find [out about it ] on YouTube,” the spokesperson says.

If you saw a crime being committed, would you video it on your phone or call 111? Post your comments below.