Residents use social media to fight crime

by Gazette Reporter
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Residents in Dublin 15 are using the power of social media to fight crime in their area – with one group even making a citizen’s arrest thanks to
Neighbourhood Watch groups and resident associations are now regularly using the free messaging service to alert neighbours of any suspicious activity.
Cllr Paul Donnelly told the Gazette: “WhatsApp is the new version of the noticeboard in the supermarket.”
Some groups have up to 400 people in them and Cllr Donnelly said that “social media is probably one of the most important things that has brought people together. There are a good number of residents’ associations that are using social media to come together and engage with each other”.
Last year, one group in Allendale even managed to make a citizen’s arrest thanks to alerts on their WhatsApp group.
Messages circulated on the WhatsApp group that a man was breaking into cars in the area.
Cllr Donnelly said that a number of the residents confronted the man and then made a citizen’s arrest.
“A few of the lads came together, they made a citizen’s arrest and called the gardai,” he said.
“The man was charged and convicted – all through WhatsApp.”
Cllr Donnelly added that gardai in the area are delighted with the way neighbours are coming together to support one another and record suspicious activity.
He said that gardai regularly appeal to residents to record all suspicious activity, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time.
“It might be that piece of the jigsaw that they were looking for in relation to criminal activity,” he said.
Since its launch in 2009, WhatsApp has become the most popular messaging service in the world.
Last year it was reported that the service had over 1 billion active users worldwide.
The company was founded by Jan Koum and Brian Acton in California in February 2009.
In October 2014, Acton and Koum sold the company to Facebook for a reported $19 billion.

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