Burglary victim uses Facebook to name and shame

By Kristin Macfarlane of The Daily Post -
File photo / AP
File photo / AP

After chasing a young man who had broken into her house down the street, a Rotorua woman found out who her alleged burglar was and named and shamed him on Facebook.

The woman, who didn't want to be identified, caught someone in the middle of stealing from her house and gave chase before calling police.

She then outed the culprits online.

From there, her post went viral among her Facebook friends and she received plenty of support - even from the extended families of those she had named and shamed.

While Rotorua police are grateful for the community support, they have warned people against posting information on social media sites as it has the potential to jeopardise investigations.

Police have charged three youths with burglary and interfering and breaking into motorvehicles, Inspector Ed Van Den Broek, area tactical response manager for Rotorua police, said.

"All three have been actively offending in the Koutu/Kawaha Pt/Selwyn Heights area," Mr Van Den Broek said.

The burglary occurred on Friday afternoon. When the woman drove into her driveway in Selwyn Heights, she saw a young man running out from her ranch slider carrying one of her bags.

She started yelling and ran after him until he dropped it. Inside the bag was a lap top, clothing, a hair straightener, phones, watches and lip glosses.

She returned to her home in case there were more thieves there.

The house was empty, but the woman believed she had caught the offender in the middle of his burglary because she found more items ready to be packed, including a Nintendo Wii console and cords.

She was also missing two laptops, containing vital information for work and business.

She said police and a dog handler were on the scene within 10 minutes with other police also helping in the area and doing her burglary report. She was impressed with the efficient work the police did.

After speaking to nearby residents, friends and family, she found out who had allegedly carried out the burglary and wanted to get her missing laptops back.

The woman said she went to both of the alleged offenders' homes but had no luck finding her belongings.

So, she took to Facebook to vent her frustration and named and shamed the alleged burglars.

Mr Van Den Broek said victims should contact police instead of putting names on social media sites. "It's great that the community are getting behind the police to tackle crime and supporting police actions.

"But don't post people's names in the social media sites, and make sure you call police if you see anything suspicious or you find out any information that may lead to criminals being apprehended by phoning the police or Crimestoppers helpline.

"In response to the Facebook postings we are grateful for the community support but there is a need to be very careful about the information put on social media as it has the potential to jeopardise investigations and due process.

"For example, if the posting names a person it may breach court orders by naming a person who has name suppression."

Mr Van Den Broek said there was also a risk of retribution or vigilante action against the offender. He said this led to further offending and if the original information was incorrect, the person posting the information could find themselves in trouble with the law.

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