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Set a Camera to Catch a Thief

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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

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  1. Meanwhile, Joe Horn has been cleared of all charges. Lesson: If you rob houses in Texas, have a will.

  2. “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.”

    Yet they use wanted posters. And publish videos on America’s Most Wanted.

    Don’t be too hard on the Sherrif – free market competition is scary for those who haven’t experienced it before.

  3. Don’t be too hard on the Sherrif – free market competition is scary for those who haven’t experienced it before.

    I just hope he has to get use to it. That anarcho-capitalism with it’s private security providers is looking better and better.

  4. Ahh, so that’s what a$$holes like that look like. God, I hate thieves.

  5. Why not give the police an opportunity to make good use of the video first, then release it online if you’re not happy with the results?

  6. David,

    How does the online copy prevent the police from making good use of it?

  7. Why not give the police an opportunity to make good use of the video first, then release it online if you’re not happy with the results?

    Because the cops will order you to give them the original, and threaten you with arrest if you still release it afterward, for “interfering with a police investigation”. Don’t think so? Try it.

  8. David,

    Because after you give it to them, it becomes police evidence. Posting after that probably violates some law if they think about it hard enough. (Obstruction of justice maybe?)

    I had someone pump four bullets into my car in high school. The cops came out and said “Yup, those are bullets all right.” Thanks, genius. I don’t expect CSI, but at least try to do something about some firing a gun in a residential neighborhood. Cuntrags.

  9. Ah, the already answered question…

  10. Yeah – if they hadn’t posted the video online, the thieves may have stolen another bike, and the police could have brought more charges on them. Wouldn’t that have been a better outcome?

  11. I had someone pump four bullets into my car in high school.

    Story plz?

  12. “If your not cop, you’re little people”

    – Blade Runner

  13. Oh, I wasn’t the only one. They shot up three or four neighborhoods for a two week period. Never caught, never repeated. No one was sure how they covered up the gunshots, either. Just a .22.

    Before that, the worse thing that happened in the neighborhood was when me and the kids up the street got into a fireworks fight. Being hit in the chest with a roman candle is not a pleasant experience.

  14. Being hit in the chest with a roman candle is not a pleasant experience.

    Candy-ass.

    No one was sure how they covered up the gunshots, either.

    2-liter plastic soda bottle over the end of a .22 is a very effective silencer. You should know these things, NutraSweet.

  15. I agree with the police in this case. Releasing video of me hacksawing off your catalytic converter is counter-prodcutive, i.e., I’d be far more productive if I didn’t have to worry about getting caught.

  16. You’re better off keeping your video evidence and selling it to the highest bidder. The defense could be blackmailed or the prosecution may be really interested in upping their conviction numbers.

  17. Does Lemmy know of this? Someone should solicit his comments.

  18. Ahh, so that’s what a$$holes like that look like. God, I hate thieves.

  19. We wouldn’t want you civilians thinking they can go around solving crimes without the police, would we?

  20. Next thing you know we will have to fill out a 27b/6 just to turn on th kitchen tap.

  21. If Sacramento had a decent light rail system, things like this wouldn’t have to happen.

  22. The 2-liter thing never worked for me. Never tried with a .22, but it doesn’t dampen the noise of a Walther PPK for shit.

  23. It’s obvious why LEO doesn’t like this: they can get caught by it too.

    Careful, Big Brother — Little Brother is watching.

  24. They Took Ur Jerbs!

  25. P Brooks,

    Hey, it worked for North Haverbrook.

  26. The 2-liter thing never worked for me. Never tried with a .22, but it doesn’t dampen the noise of a Walther PPK for shit.

    Works okay with a .22, but don’t get all happy with it. It lasts about 3 or 4 shots, max.

  27. I pay with cash at bars. I don’t enjoy lookin at my credit card records and I don’t really want cameras recording me everywhere….Too bad the pentagon won’t release those videos of the plane crashing.

    7/7 london bombings occurred with the massive camera surveilance and why was their that planning excercise on the morning of 7/7?

  28. 7/7 bombings…amazing coincidence…practice set up for the exact same scenario that morning. truth is stranger than fiction.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKvkhe3rqtc

  29. pbrooks,
    public trans in sac is actually pretty good.

  30. give your evidence to police and most of the time it will be stored and ignored or just plain lost. They don’t investigate unless it’s political. My friend’s house was robbed, everything valuable stolen. The police took a report and proceeded to do absolutely no investigation. So my friend finds out later that it was his neighbor that robbed him. When he tried to give additional info to the police suggesting as much, they ignored him. If there are no drugs involved, they simply don’t give a shit.

  31. If there are no drugs involved, they simply don’t give a shit.

    Get your priorities straight, Pinette.

    Don’t you know that there is a WAR going on with drugs? There is no War on Burglary because breaking into people’s homes and stealing there property is not near as serious as young people smoking the weed from the devil’s garden.

    Get with the program.

  32. To review: Potential jurors shouldn’t see all the evidence, lest they be “polluted”;

    There is nothing wrong with the police’s claim on this point…and KMW distorts the position. Widespread dissemination of evidence can make it difficult to sit a jury. It is the jury pool that is polluted, not the jurors themselves…recognizing this is different than claiming that “potential jurors shouldn’t see all the evidence.”

    the accused shouldn’t get to use exonerating evidence in their defense;

    Not sure that was the police’s claim, but there is nothing wrong with a defendant using any resource to build a defense.

    and law enforcement arrogates all judgement calls about evidence to itself.

    The “should” in this statement needs to be qualified with a “if they want to…” statement, otherwise it is just hot air.

    It should not be read as equivalent to “are required to,” as far as I can tell.

    It seems to be more of a request than a demand, in context.

  33. Fucking retards. Never try to rob anyone that has a Home Theater, Security, Auotmation truck parked in the friggin driveway.

  34. Candy-ass.

    Beat me to it, Epi.

    2-liter plastic soda bottle over the end of a .22 is a very effective silencer. You should know these things, NutraSweet.

    Word.

  35. We need consensus, not more cameras.

  36. There is nothing wrong with the police’s claim on this point…and KMW distorts the position. Widespread dissemination of evidence can make it difficult to sit a jury. It is the jury pool that is polluted, not the jurors themselves…recognizing this is different than claiming that “potential jurors shouldn’t see all the evidence.”

    See posts above, Neu Mejican. When I watch videos on “Americas most wanted”, the same jury pool is being polluted. When I watch bank-robber videos on King5, the jury pool is being polluted. It’s an argument in search of a foundation.

    Face it, the police are preternaturally skeptical (and reasonably so) of citizens taking “law enforcement” into their own hands. And usually for good reason. This case, however, hardly rises to vigilante justice and potential (operative word) jury pool contamination.

    Point of fact, last winter one of the ski areas I frequented had posted a security video on their website of a burglary.

    My bottom line opinion is the Sherrif is making a mountain out of a molehill.

  37. See posts above, Neu Mejican. When I watch videos on “Americas most wanted”, the same jury pool is being polluted. When I watch bank-robber videos on King5, the jury pool is being polluted.

    No argument.
    That doesn’t make KMW’s summary of the position any more accurate.

    It’s an argument in search of a foundation.

    It is an argument that has been used successfully in more than one trial/appeal.

    “My client couldn’t get a fair trial due to excess pre-trial exposure of partial facts without the proper context…yadda, yadda.”

  38. who haven’t experienced it before.

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