Set a Camera to Catch a Thief


A rematch in the citizens-with-YouTube versus law enforcement wars:

Dave Johnson's motorbike was stolen. He wasn't lucky enough to catch the thieves in the act, but he posted a note on Craigslist to keep his neighbors informed. Turns out that one of his neighbors caught the troublemakers on camera attempting another bike heist. They posted the video, which shows the car and faces of the culprits, on YouTube.

The Sacramento sherrif's office is ticked off at engaged citizens for stealing their thunder using basic online tools. A spokesman offers a strange hodgepodge of reasons why the video shouldn't have been posted:

Sgt. Tim Curran of the Sacramento Sheriff's Department said releasing possible evidence in any case can damage the chances of getting a conviction in court.

"It pollutes the jury pool, if you will," he said. "A lot of times, things can come out from that video that the suspect can use in their defense."

But Dave thinks using YouTube may help get his bike back. "Any place that shows their picture is a good idea to me," he said.

The Sheriff's Department says that victims should turn over video evidence to their local law enforcement agency and let them decide if it should be released.

To review: Potential jurors shouldn't see all the evidence, lest they be "polluted"; the accused shouldn't get to use exonerating evidence in their defense; and law enforcement arrogates all judgement calls about evidence to itself.

More on citizen law enforcement via YouTube here, and me on NPR talking about the upsides of living in a surveillance society here.

Via Fark