Police use social media posts as evidence to net new-age hoons

| 13.04,21. 05:17 PM |

Police use social media posts as evidence to net new-age hoons

Police are targeting dangerous driving and anti-social behaviour on the Gold Coast.(Supplied: Queensland Police)

Snap-happy hoons are making law enforcement "very easy" on the Gold Coast, the city's most senior police officer says.

PolAir clocked an allegedly stolen car travelling at more than 200 kilometres per hour on the M1 over the weekend, the latest in a spate of hooning incidents in the city.

Acting Chief Superintendent Geoff Sheldon said the alleged crime was livestreamed on Instagram.

"It makes it a bit easier to solve crime when they do stupid things like that," he said.

"It makes our jobs so much easier if we have self-taken video evidence of you committing your own crime."

A police officer sits with his hands resting on a table
Acting Chief Superintendent Geoff Sheldon says police are using social media to track offenders.(

ABC Gold Coast: Kimberley Bernard


Social content manna from heaven

Social media platforms, by their very nature, are inherently good for sharing, especially for local community groups.

An increasing number of concerned citizens have posted CCTV or mobile device footage in Facebook groups in attempts to identify local offenders.

"They'll give us a copy of that [footage] or we'll come across it; a lot of the time it makes it a lot easier," Acting Chief Superintendent Sheldon said.

Posts on social media have also helped police build a legal case or bring further charges, he added.

"People share things on social media and we gather a body of evidence and come back another day and take action.

"It's a great way of being able to prosecute, being able to identify who was involved in these offences.

Same needs as influencers

Former detective inspector Terry Goldsworthy, who is now an associate professor of criminology at Bond University, said there had been an "explosion" of people using digital devices to record low- and high-level crimes.

People are leaving digital footprints … and police can use it as intelligence to assist them in where they're targeting their resources," he said.

Dr Goldsworthy said criminals shared their acts for the feedback and gratification.

"They're driven by the same kinds of needs a social influencer is. They want to have … likes and views and things like that."

He said the most recent publicly available data showed a 48 per cent rise in the number of car thefts in Queensland.

"We do have a problem with unlawful uses or stolen vehicles in Queensland, and we do have a problem with young people stealing vehicles in Queensland," he said.

While mobile phones could be self-incriminating, Dr Goldsworthy also suggested they could be a powerful tool to prove someone's innocence.

"It can work both ways," he said.


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