In my hunt for the next blog entry I’ve come across a lot of articles about Facebook and other social networking sites being used in investigations and prosecution of suits for divorce and other actions in other jurisdictions. It seems our police force hasn’t been totally ignorant of these recent developments as evidenced by this recent news item. Here’s a summary:
The Ivan Padilla robbery and carjacking group has been responsible for at least four robberies in swanky addresses, two in the Lafayette building, one in Dasmariñas Village and another in Forbes, both in Makati. This group has been tagged in the theft of vehicles belonging to former Foreign Affairs Secretary Roberto Romulo and the father of actor Derek Ramsay.
In April, a Korean reported the robbery of his unit in the Lafayette condominium building in Makati City. Police managed to track down the victim's laptop and arrested Ryan Francisco, the first member of the group to be apprehended. Francisco spilled the beans and identified the other co-members of his group. The suspect also allowed police investigators to use his accounts in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to track down and monitor the other suspects. Superintendent Leo Francisco, chief of the NCR Police Office Intelligence Unit said: "We have accounted for six but we count 10 to 15 members. They are lying low but we have the address and profiles of these persons." The Twitter account of one member of the group even confirmed that they were involved in a heist of a house somewhere in McKinley Road in Makati recently.
Of Course catching criminals is a cat and mouse game requiring the authorities to be one step ahead of those they are mandated to apprehend. This time our men in blue can count themselves lucky that the group they were following didn't expect them to be so technologically savy (nor that one of their own would rat them out after some persuasion on the part of the PNP). The question remains: will social networking sites remain a viable avenue by which to apprehend suspects and fugitives? After all the fact is that for every tried and proven method (especially those advertised in news articles like this one), criminals and those with criminal tendencies will likely take stock and adjust their behavior accordingly.
Side note: NCRPO spokesman Supt. Rommel Miranda mentioned that they are hunting down three pretty female members of the group. A key part in the groups' operation are "curvaceous female mestizas in sexy and alluring clothes" prowling bars and upscale parties in the metropolis who befriend their victims to gain their trust and eventually, access to their residence. Lesson: if she looks incredibly too good for you and is a little bit too willing then its probably not best to take her anywhere near your car or your house, as one poor korean (mentioned above) learned to his detriment.