Participatory justice

NPR aired a story about a shop owner whose security cam recorded a thief scooping up and making off with a couple of watches. "After filing a police report, [the retailer] handed out fliers with the suspects' pictures and posted the surveillance tape on YouTube." Whether the motive is public humiliation or catching the thief, the Internet is increasingly being used to "right" wrongs. To law enforcement, it's a little scary because when people or organizations like Perverted Justice (the group used by NBC Dateline for its "To Catch a Predator" series) take matters into their own hands online or offline, they can make it even harder to bring the perpetrator to justice. People not trained in gathering the kind of evidence that holds up in court can botch the legal process and make things much easier for the people breaking the law. Fortunately, the retailer NPR led its story with filed a police report and offered a reward with the YouTube video only for tips that he could hand over to the police. "Police caught the thief late last month after the watches were spotted in a pawn shop down the street," NPR reports.


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