Let’s preface this story with the following: if you accept friendship requests on Facebook from people you don’t know, you might be an idiot.

Okay, now let’s take it a step further. If you’re an alleged gang member who brags about alleged criminal activity on your Facebook page, and you still accept friendships from people you don’t know, you may have had a lobotomy.

That’s what reportedly happened last week in New York, when more than a dozen alleged Brooklyn gang members were arrested after one of them accepted a friend request from — wait for it — a New York police officer.

Oh, goodie, this will be fun…

Lets get the scoop, courtesy of the New York Post (gavel bang: New York Magazine):

Fourteen members of a Brooklyn gang ended up in handcuffs after idiots in their ranks accepted Facebook “friend” requests from a cop who was tipped off to their year-long Crown Heights burglary wave, authorities said yesterday.

“They signed off on their messages with LOL — laughing out loud,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said. “Well, there was a person who was laughing out loud. That was Police Officer Michael Rodrigues of the 77th Precinct.”

The anti-crime officer friended several alleged members of the Brower Boys gang through the social-networking site, then quietly kept an eye on posts where they recklessly crowed that it was “break-in day on the avenue.”

I’m not sure if I should be reassured or depressed that apparently it’s more difficult to use Facebook than to plan a robbery. I’m also definitely depressed that the Commissioner felt compelled to throw out such a poor joke at the presser, but that’s beside the point. This is not the first dumb Facebook criminal story we’ve covered, but it is particularly funny juxtaposing tech savviness next to the cops’ mockery of the skills needed to steal from people’s apartments:

“A burglary is not rocket science,” Kelly said. “The Brower boys targeted people who moved into the neighborhood recently, they looked for open windows and they rang doorbells to see if someone was home.”

Sounds like the Brower Boys should have used the time they didn’t need studying for robbery school, and taken some time to learn about online privacy instead.

As a small caveat, the only thing that is potentially worrisome about this story is one line buried within the New York Post article:

Police wouldn’t divulge what handle Rodrigues used as his Facebook name.

Is that supposed to mean Officer Rodrigues used some sort of alteration of his name (like cute girls do to avoid internet stalkers)? For example, instead of using your first and last name, you would use a shortened version of your first name, and your middle name instead of last name. Or are the police implying that the officer made up a fake pseudonym?

In any event, that is some nice police work. Three cheers for effective crime fighting.

Cop tracked Brooklyn gang Brower Boys by ‘friending’ them online [New York Post]


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