IT’S the witching hour on a quiet Glenfield street, with only the occasional dog bark punctuating the silence.
Two boys, barely old enough to be in high school, suddenly come into frame.
Stealthily and with purpose, they sidle up next to a car parked in a driveway.
Jackpot –it’s unlocked.
While one boystands watch, the other rummages through the vehicle, emerging with an armful of camera equipment.
They scurry away like sewer rats, a look of victory washed across their faces.
Little do they know the unblinking eye of a CCTV camera has captured their every move.
The next morning, resident Grant Higginson notices his car has been broken into and reviews the CCTV footage.
Incensed, he posts it to the Wagga Neighbourhood Watch Facebook page and within 10 minutes, the prime suspect hasbeen identified.
The information is forwarded to police and an arrest is made.
Welcome to the world of keyboard cops.
It’s where the extraordinary reach of social media and the growing frustrationof crime victims collide.
As more residents fit dashcams to their cars and CCTV cameras to their homes, this type of grassroots policing will continue to grow.
Already, about a fifth of arrests made by Wagga Police stem from third party evidence like this.
Of course, without meaningful penalties (we’re looking at you, Young Offenders Act), all the evidence in the world won’t help bring justice.
But smoking gun proof such as video footage is still a potent weapon in a prosecution case.
Residents should heed the advice of Wagga’s crime manager Darren Cloake and work with police before posting video footage online.
Behind every break-in –some that warrant only a few lines in The Daily Advertiser –is a tale of heartache.
The feeling of having your home, the place where you should feel safest, violated is a feeling that has to be experienced to be understood.
Too many good people in our community are being victimised in this way just so someone can get their next drug hit.
It’s unjust, unwarrantedand completely unacceptable.
And it’s high time we fought back.
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