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Sophos: Safe-Cracker arrested as police post CCTV images on Facebook

January 2009 by Sophos

Sophos has welcomed the news that police in New Zealand have used popular social networking website Facebook to aid their criminal investigations, following the arrest of a 21-year-old apprentice from Queenstown who attempted to break into a safe containing approximately NZD 20,000.

The man broke through the ceiling of the Frankton Arms Tavern in the early hours of Monday morning and spent almost an hour using an angle grinder and crowbar, attempting – and ultimately failing – to break into the safe and make a quick getaway with the loot. He was caught in the act when he foolishly removed his balaclava during the heat of the moment, before he noticed the CCTV camera.

Local police, who set up a crime-fighting page on the social networking site last month, have described the man’s capture as the ‘first Facebook arrest’. The safe-cracker is due to appear in Queenstown District Court tomorrow.

“With so many people using Facebook for their day-to-day communications it would be a good idea if all local police forces could utilise social networking sites in this way,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant. “By generating their own presence on Facebook and spreading vital crime-fighting information, the authorities in New Zealand have managed to successfully apprehend a criminal in next-to-no time with the help of the virtual world. It’s a commendable feat and one which some UK authorities could learn from.”

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