From now on, if you are unfortunate enough to have your car stolen in Seattle, the local Police Department [SPD] will post a description of your vehicle on Twitter. Yes, that Twitter. It’s part of a new initiative to cut down on the roughly 3,000 car thefts that occur in the city each year.
The new Twitter account is called, "Get Your Car Back" [http://twitter.com/getyourcarback#], though I’m sure the SPD could have something cooler like, ‘Stolen Vehicle Watch’ or ‘Smile, You’re On Twitter’. The Tweets, which are visible to everyone, look like this:
COLOR:SILVER YR:1993 MAKE:HONDA MODEL:ACCORD BODY:4DR LIC:608YTL ST:WA ***DO NOT MAKE CONTACT CALL 911***
The idea is to get ordinary, average citizens on the streets looking out for stolen vehicles and reporting them to the police so that they can quickly be recovered. Kind of like that reality TV show, The Fugitive, though not as dull. It is also hoped to deter criminals from stealing the cars in the first place.
Lieutenant Mike Edwards of SPD’s Investigation Procedures, explains:
“Twitter is more than a craze. It’s been around long enough now that clearly [it’s] something the average citizen at almost any age is aware of and using, so for us it is an opportunity to get information out in a very timely fashion, much quicker than we have been able to in the past. So what will happen is once the officer has arrived and confirmed it is a stolen vehicle, our dispatch center will then tweet it.”
Depending on the success of ‘Get Your Car Back’, the SPD may consider using Twitter for other purposes, such as reporting traffic accidents.
“One of the important messages from all of this is as technology continues to grow and expand [the SPD is] growing and expanding. We are looking for new and different ways to do what we’ve done and part of that too, is to engage the public a lot more and get the community more involved and aware of what we are doing.”
Needless to say, Lt. Edwards and the SPD discourage citizens from taking action against the drivers of stolen vehicles; you should always call the police.
By Tristan Hankins
Source: WST and SPD