The scary part, though, is the cops' handling of the situation. Luckily for me, I was quick enough to react and hide away my most important item, my iPhone 4. As soon as they were gone (within 30s) I called the cops, and soon thereafter we had 5 squad cars show up. They interrogated us and made us write statements, but would not send a car after the suspects, who had fled in a direction we had indicated to them. After telling us there's no chance they'd recover our stolen stuff, they took off. We asked for a ride back to the bart station, to the police station, anywhere (it was night in a shady part of Oakland. We had nothing… no money for a cab, and we sure as hell didn't want to walk alone around Oakland.) They just refused, saying they had "other shit to do" and left.
The fact that I got mugged at gunpoint in Oakland comes as no surprise to me—I shouldn't have been there in the first place. However, the police's blatant incompetence came as a terrifying shock.
New York used to be very, very bad. People thought that was just life in the big city. Then they decided to maintain order, even painting over graffiti as soon as they found it, and enforced even minor laws. The criminal element perceived that bad behavior would not be tolerated. Malcolm Gladwell describes it in Tipping Point.
The most remarkable thing about it is how few other places have tried it since.
When people have control over whether laws are enforced where they live, they usually choose to enforce them rather than let everything go to hell.
Back in the 80's, it was crazy. I grew up in a good neighborhood in Queens. The NYPD hid the drunks and incompetents in precients that served safer neighborhoods in those days. One day, a car almost hit my friends playing stickball in the street, then proceeded to go down the block and empty an Uzi into a guy at a bus stop. (Life Lesson: Don't piss off Columbian drug dealers.)
So my dad calls the cops. He dials 911, and the cop asks "Are they still shooting?" and hangs up when my dad says "Uh, no". He ended up pulling the fire department call box out on the street, and the firemen called for cops over the radio.
As much as I love how safe NYC is, I don't want it to turn into Singapore.
Crime happens when the risk of getting caught times the cost of punishment is lower than the benefit of the crime. If you increase the risk of getting caught, you may safely (in fact, you should) decrease the cost of being punished.
And even when there's no cop around, other things influence this perception. If there are a lot of people around and things are orderly and many visual cues contribute to the perception of order, the perception of risk is greater.
For example, people throwing plastic bags everywhere. Now were trying to restrict the freedom of people who don't litter rather than holding responsible those causing the problem.
It probably is interesting, though.
And there's nothing "wrong" with law and order like in Switzerland. Chaos like in Hong Kong only seems romantic until you become a victim of violent crime. Then all of a sudden its not cute anymore.
I am guessing (perhaps incorrectly) that most of the people who talk about what is "wrong" with Singapore have either only been there once for a few days or have never been and only base their opinion of the place on the story about the American kid who got caned.
http://gladwell.typepad.com/gladwellcom/2006/03/thoughts_on_..., http://www.freakonomics.com/2006/03/09/malcolm-gladwell-on-t..., http://gladwell.typepad.com/gladwellcom/2006/03/levitt_and_d...
The trends you're referring to take decades. And don't seem to have worked in Oakland.
So what causes people to steal? They are poor, they want more than they currently have because what they have is not enough. If you want them to stop stealing, then society must become fairer. As it stands, resources are allocated through a sort of popularity contest. Those at the top of the social popularity ranking get the most.
Why do people kill and fight? For respect. Society looks down on the poor, it avoids them, laughs at them and criticizes them for being where they are without having walked in their shoes. Want people to stop being so violent? Show them some love and put the batons away.
Not to mention the double standard of having a bunch of hired thugs (the police) keeping us safe from a bunch of hired thugs (gangsters). I don't want any thugs in my neighborhood.
We didn't catch him (right then at least), but I was still impressed with the quick response.
I've only moved to NYC few months ago and never felt remotely as threatened as some of my late night walks in SF. Still I keep hearing NYC has its own share of bad hoods but my guess is in proportion to its overall size, they comprise a significantly small % of area than sf.
The second hint that things were going to be interesting was when the guy on the front desk told me how to get to Union Square - the hotel was on Geary St. and I thought I knew SF reasonably well. He proceeded to tell me not to walk directly along the street, but to walk up the hill a bit then walk across in the direction of Union Square.
It turned out that during the day this advice wasn't really required but at night it definitely was! I only walked back once and took taxis back after that.
This was about 10 years ago - don't know if the area is more civilised now but it was pretty scary then.
Two areas of SF are pretty bad: Hunter's Point / Bayview, and the Tenderloin. Personally I never really go there on foot, and I'm fine. If I must go there, I'll drive of catch a cab.
You have a reference for that one?
My motorbike was stolen the 12hrs before I went sitting in a hedge in a field where I found some tyre tracks in some mud (nobody sensible would have a trials tire on a chicken chaser) of my bike earlier that day ( skipped classes at my EE uni course). After ~4hrs sitting in the cold and dark I hear the bike near to the field and set after it and try to pull the thief off as he goes around a roundabout (he just wobbled into the curb and goes off and I get flung to the ground). I phone the police telling them where my bike is ( I had reported the theft hours ago). I chase after the guy and he drops it somewhere (it went quiet) so I phone for my housemates only for 1 to drive home because he "doesn't like this one bit". I spent 20minutes waiting for the police only for me and a friend to fail at tackling the guy off the bike when he comes back and rides off.
I go looking for the bike with a friend (I hear it stop a long way off somewhere in a council estate) and interrogate one of the thief's friend who tried to follow the thief. Waste of time, it turned out the friend had put fake plates on his scooter. My friend miraculously spots my bike in a dark alley and we push it home. Then 3 fucking police cars turn up almost an hour after I tell them and I convince them I phoned them but I have nothing on me (I was certain I was at least going to get beaten up that night) so I get put in the cop car and taken home to get ID. Then they are happy that I wasn't the thief.
That was the 2nd time my bike got stolen.
1st time it was in a locked garage blocked by a locked car (smashed the window of the car to release handbrake and crowbarred the garage door and cut the lock. A few years later they torched the both and my bike along with my stuff stored in it [i was at uni]). Usual stuff first, police come down, take info and tell me they wont be able to find it. I bunk off school and go riding around on my mountainbike checking out all the council estates and woods near my home (Plymouth, England). Sure enough I hear it come down a path and see 2 people on it. I throw my mountainbike in front of them and they came crashing down and I banzai charge at them screaming. One of them runs for his life and the other just hung around claiming he didn't nick it (was offered a "go") and wanted compensation for damaging his "trackies". I believe him though as I had an inkling as to who knicked it. I ride out of the woods away from home with the mangled bicycle on my lap and I get my dad to come by to pick it up(http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonnobleuk/5783020123/), clear the woods between me and home and then I ride back.
Police's response when I tell them I retrieved my bike back "oh, good for you."
For some unknown reason this heap of a bike got stolen 3 times. The 3rd time I gave up only for the police find it dragged 50meters away from my home where someone tried to use bolt-cutters on it. The police then tried to charge me £250 for retrieval fees. I slipped off from work to avoid that scam.
Had a couple friends get mugged, luckily not me, in neither incident were the police even involved I don't think. People just don't think to go to them for such things such is their stellar reputation.
Also had my (push)bike nicked when I was a kid growing up which means I never actually learnt to ride a bike (my family were too poor to buy a replacement), but I guess that's a bit out of date now!
I really think things are worse for this kind of crime in a smaller town because there are more idiots who think they're king of the castle, the kind of guys who would come a cropper very quickly in a bigger city like London. Let's put it this way - I've nearly been in a fight like 2-3 times + actually got assaulted once in Exeter, never had any problems in London other than once getting my phone nicked.
I lost all respect for the police after an inadvisable night when I went to a concert in Milton Keynes and ended up sleeping rough outside the train station waiting for the first train (I was 16 at the time). The police turned up with blankets, etc. and just sat there in their vans laughing at us. Not to mention the way the MET handles protests (google Ian Tomlinson).
I would like to think most coppers are ok, but I can't help but wonder whether the police is just a destination for school bullies who want a bigger scope in which to ply their trade.
Apart from that I never really had an issue with Exeter apart from maybe the god awful traffic and a few minor cases of racism from some kids. A friend got randomly punched in the Cavern ( I love that smelly, dingy nightclub)and had a face like a bruised elephant man for about a month. I quite like the town to be honest, the chavs are a lot less chavvy than swillies.
About stolen mountainbikes, I've had 3 stolen (all in Plymouth); one from under the kitchen window whilst my mum was doing the dishes; 1 locked in the previously mentioned garage; 1 locked up next to the Plymouth Charles Cross station. I confronted the thief on Royal Parade (2 minute walk from the police station) for about 5minutes and had the police on the phone whilst talking to him. He was fucking enormous and I was a weedy 19yr old so there was little I could really do. The police couldn't see him on any cctv.
My dad had 2 stolen and we saw 1 of the bikes being ridden in the aforementioned woods. My dad went after him with a tyre iron and I followed, we got it back (only for it to go up in the fire as it was aluminium).
It's not like we were rich to buy all these bikes. I worked up ~£600 from a paper round (a lot of papers at 3p each) for the 1st bike (the best 1) that got stolen and we really had to cut corners on most things to afford bikes to go racing. Not that they were ever really any good, they were always bitsas and there was always a really crappy part on it (saddles and pedals usually).
I really do have a deep-seated hatred for police, at least the Devon+Cornwall. My family had to put up with almost 10years of racial abuse, violence, robbery, arson, gbh, false arrests, graffiti, property damage and theft. Smashing all the windows or pouring paint or battery acid or breaking off all the wipers or slashing the tires on our rotation of crap cars seemed to be a sport to them. That stopped after 4 of the usual culprits left home.
Let me tell you, ~30 people of all ages outside your door shouting racial slurs, even if they don't match your ethnicity, is intimidating when you are 12 and equally depressing when your non-participating neighbours walk on by or go inside their homes.
The police never did a thing except for 1 time when the guy ( who I thought stole the motorbike) was letching after my sister, came to our door banging on it, and started hitting my dad (he was a pensioner by this time) on our doorstep. We went fucking mental on him. He went to prison ( he later did the arson the day after he got out and came round to check his handy work) not for attacking and trespass but for attacking the police when they turned up an hour later (I phoned 999). Police couldn't give a shit.
My brother got ripped of his clothes and caned by two 14yr olds when he was 6. Police said "it's just boys playing".
One boy 5yrs older than I grabbed my arm and shoved it into a load of grease, I broke free and climbed a tree in our garden. That boys dad came down with a claw hammer and asked my dad where I was so he could kill me. I stayed very quiet in that tree.
Unlit boxes of matches got pushed through our letterbox on several occasions.
The police have always been fucking useless to me and have proven to us on a couple of times in court that they are liars (they can't get there stories straight and are always changing their statements). I always think they might redeem themselves. Not yet.
I miss Exeter police.
I see the problem. you should have dialed 0118 999 881 999 119 7253 
And yes, the cavern is nice :)
Anyway I fear we are digressing from the discussion rather here :) email if you fancy, address on profile.
Never really had any trouble in Exeter - couple of pushy situations, but that's about it. One of my mates at Exeter Uni (99-02) was Asian and was subjected to some dreadful abuse. It seems to have got better in the last 10 years though.
Anyway, hope all is good for you guys now!
As I say in another comment I think Plymouth has more issues because of poverty resulting from the vast reduction in docks employment. Poverty begets crime and anti-social behaviour, same old story really.
Just FYI that vigilantism really isn't the way to go -- you just don't know what can happen.
rightly or wrongly I'd do it again and both times in the past I expected to be stabbed as I know chavs have a thing for flick and butterfly knives. I had recurring dreams when growing up of being stabbed in the neck, always defending someone. I always wake up in a pile of cold sweat with my heart going a million bpm. thankfully I rarely get them now.
People die in car accidents. People die in plane crashes. People die in Space Shuttle crashes. People die from heart disease. People slip and fall in the shower and then die. People die for no reason at all.
Some day, you will die. If you try to prevent yourself from dying, you will fail.
Two days later I got a call to say that it hadn't actually been stolen after all, but rather some officers on the night shift had picked it up themselves as felt it was "at risk of theft". It had been sitting in one of their interview rooms the whole time.
Edited to add:
Or take your pick:
If there is no 'hot pursuit' or current danger, then it doesn't matter much whether they arrive there in half an hour or in four hours. The stuff is gone/damaged/whatever and the police won't gain much by interrupting their current task.
So I'm not sure if they behaved quite right, but the article makes it sound less bad than the summary. Rescuing someone who is not thinking clearly and doesn't want to be rescued can go bad in all sorts of ways.
That being said, I think most doctors would do it anyway.
And that's to be expected. Those that do think outside the box left the box a long time ago.
You're never going to convince a flight attendent that you can turn off the network and keep using your smart phone until one of the people who make the rules gets an iPhone and learns about the magical "airplane mode".
And it sort of should be this way. You want these people following rules, not making them up as they go. Its really the higher ups and ultimately the citizenry that need to change the way they think.
Yes, they do put their lives at risk and for that I am appreciative. But I'd appreciate it a lot more if they were a lot more responsive to the citizens who pay them.
Roofer death rate: 35/100,000 per year
Lumberjack death rate: 92/100,000 per year
Police death rate: 13/100,000 per year
None of these jobs requires a college degree. The average roofer salary is 36k/year, 42% of the salary of a job with a 63% lower death rate.
Could police work be less dangerous because of adequate training, equipment and protocols? The danger is still there, mitigated.
As far as I can tell, no one has the will, political or otherwise, to take steps towards a remedy.
It isn't just the police department. The state had to come in and run the schools after the school district went bankrupt.
Did I mention that Ebonics as a second language originates from Oakland? When they were rolling up the 60s, a lot of the batshit insane got swept towards Oakland, and it has been festering ever since.
Gun crime doesn't exist in Ireland like it seems to in the US. The idea that someone out to mug me and take my wallet would have a firearm pointed at me and not just their fists is, to me, quite scary. I don't know what the statistics are like for such crimes at gunpoint and while I write this I realise that this fear might well be the result of my limited exposure to American news outlets.
I guess my question is: is it justified or is this just my lack of experience of living in the states running amok ?
The most dangerous places are places where there's access to firearms for criminals, but they're illegal or prohibited for citizens. The most heavily armed states in the USA actually have lower gun crime and violent crime. Likewise, extremely heavily armed countries like Switzerland and Israel also have low violent crime rates.
You've got to go to one side or the other to be safe. Near complete removal and prohibition of firearms (like Japan) works. Arming all legitimate citizens who want arms works. But having firearms available easily for purchase on the black market, but restricted/prohibited legally tends to promote the worst of both worlds.
Is that true when you compare cities of similar size / population density? Sure, Montana has a ton of guns and little crime, but it's also rural and has no people. Looking at cities >250k, the high-crime cities (let's say, those over 10 violent crimes per 1,000 inhabitants) don't seem to skip states with loose gun laws: St. Louis, MO; Memphis, TN; Indianapolis, IN; Kansas City, MO; Atlanta, GA; Houston, TX; and Tulsa, OK; are all high on the list.
(Data from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_cities_by_crime_r...)
Houston also has a significant low-income population, and experienced white flight to the suburbs on a massive scale through the 70s and 80s; leaving behind a wrecked shell of a city (downtown has only recently started to come back to life; when I lived in Houston, downtown real estate was dirt cheap, but everyone was afraid to go there after dark).
In short, I don't think it's anywhere near as simple as "guns lead to more/less crime".
NYC's another interesting data point (but merely that) -- violent crime rate is roughly the same as Phoenix's... one city with a heavily armed citizenry and one virtually defenseless, same results. Obviously, other factors matter more.
If you go down the list of US cities with violent crime problems in order, the unmistakable trend is they're all at the bottom end of the economic spectrum. Safe bet that the local unemployment rate has a lot more to do with crime than gun laws.
I could see Houstion being a little more laid back about recording every little gunshot. For one, guns in texas are sorta like bread and butter. For another, it doesn't look good to have an excess number of reported gunshots in a given annual report.
The population point is interesting and I'm not sure about that. Maybe something to do some looking into at some point, I'd be curious to know more.
Edit: This seems almost comically biased and appeals to emotion a lot, but does cite some stats - http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/493636.html
More Guns Less Crime is a snappy title, but mostly seems like a work of ideological pro-firearm propaganda in light of its author's many documented ethical issues.
This wouldn't be so much of a big point, except that he did spend a lot of time trumpeting about this single year of slight rise in crime. If you read his studies at the time, he also grossly misrepresents things like doing that trick where you report going from 4 to 5 incidents a year as "OMG! 25% increase!" (can't remember the exact number)
Kleck is another guy with crazy stats. In one report he
mentioned that concealed handguns saved 230k lives per year in the US. I crunched the numbers to see how that would translate to our 'lawless', 'gunless' country, where criminals 'have free reign', and it would mean we would have 15k deaths because we don't do concealed gun laws. Turned out that our annual murder rate from all sources combined is about 300. Part of the pro-gun propaganda is the implicit assumption that every crime involves death or rape.
I've spent a lot of time looking at gun issues over the years and started out from a total anti-gun perspective, with the exception of farmers and security. As I've examined it, the problem really seems to be handguns. Rifles don't seem to be so much of an issue - anecdotally at least, it's hard to conceal a rifle. The armed Swiss that's so often reported are armed with rifles, too (interestingly the 'armed society is a polite society' people always seem to leave out west Africa...). When you start looking at the statistics in the US, it really jumps out at you how bad handguns are there. I've also never, ever, seen any pro-gun argument make note of the role of the startling increase in US incarceration have an affect on crime rates. It's an interesting topic and blinkered passion rise on all sides, that's for sure.
Port Arthur was a very large massacre with ~35 dead and made up about 10% of our annual murders, but usually spree killers comprise a much lower percentage. Legislation shouldn't be made based on the outlier case. It's even worse in the US - the high visibility spree killers would only total 100-200 per year, but there are about ~17k murders annually in the US (11k of those are with handguns). The spree killers that make the headlines are a drop in the bucket in the US, and in Australia they're actually pretty rare - separated by years, not to mention that we haven't had much in the way of such things this millenium.
In short, focusing on spree killers misses the bigger picture. The sheer number of spree killers is immense in the US as compared per capita to its contemporaries, but even there it's still a drop in the bucket.
six degrees of separation: one of my teachers at high school taught Julian Knight (Hoddle St bloke) how to shoot, in the school's army cadet programme...
six degrees of embarrassment: I had been seeing a lass from Tasmania for a month or two and was making a short series of dark jokes (my MO) about the Port Arthur massacre. She waited patiently to the end of it, then let me know her aunt died there. She said it was worth waiting to see my suitably embarrassed expression...
Richmond was ranked overall as the 5th most dangerous city and the 12th-most dangerous metropolitan area in the United States for the year of 2005.
In Switzerland, though, I think it's important to keep a few things in mind when you look at the statistics, before you judge it as a heavily armed country:
- It's mandatory for every male to serve in the army, where we are all issued rifles. We get to keep the rifles at home when not on duty, and get to keep them after our duties are complete should we wish to. This makes up a huge part of the guns owned in CH. Military rifles are very hard to conceal and do not make for very good armed robbery weapons.
- While guns are common, ammunition is hard to come by. Military ammunition is only given while on-duty, and must be returned to the arsenal when not on-duty. While many people have guns, few have ammunitions.
- For almost everybody, guns remain locked in the attic / basement to be used only should the military call.
Please let me know if you ever find a truly unbiased study on gun laws and their impact on crime. Seems like everyone's got an agenda, which is unfortunate because it's really a pretty interesting topic.
It seems that Switzerland has a low gun-crime rate but I wouldn't be so quick to give credit to their gunlaws for this. Switzerland and the United States are very different places.
Again this is just my $0.02
I lived in Ballymun for a year and witnessed all sorts of craziness - arson, vandalism, stabbings - but not once a gun crime. I've never been attacked or robbed myself either, thankfully.
I think the difference is that due to demographics the Irish don't face the constant threat of the urban zombie hordes attacking.
That's not true in the slightest. Prevalence of guns directly equates to a greater incidence of gun crime, on both an international (say, U.S. vs. other nations) and intranational basis.
"Please avoid introducing classic flamewar topics unless you have something genuinely new to say about them."
I really doubt there's anything new or interesting to be had from rehashing the gun politics argument over again.
I'll just report a comment I made 5 months ago when this happened:
"THIS debate definitely does not belong here. Seriously, even if humankind ever does sort out the essentially intractable problem of governmental control over the carrying of lethal weapons by the citizenry, I am willing to bet everything I own that we won't be sorting it out here on Hacker News.
I reckon we could have a fucking boring argument about it though. I've seen it done, it looks easy."
The latter. Most of us live in places where crime is not a problem. We're not all in mortal fear for our lives, having property stolen left and right at gun point.
And .. the modest amount of actual crime I've seen, no guns were brandished.
I'd rather be threatened with a gun than by a big palooka with his fists.
* Fists or a gun, you're going to do what he says. He's got the drop on you, we can assume he's picked a place where help is unlikely to come, you can't get away quickly.
* A guy like that is big, likes to fight. He's going to do some damage. If he gets into it, he can cripple you for life, rack up some serious hospital bills.
* Criminals with guns don't seem to have much of a chance to learn to use them well. Contrary to TV, while shooting a gun is easy, actually hitting something is difficult. It takes practice.
It seems that the Westerner attitude is that "somewhere else" things are really bad. New Orleans has close to the highest murder rate in the world.
It seems that the Westerner attitude is that "somewhere else" things are really bad.
If I lived in a place where crime was a problem, I'd say so.
New Orleans has close to the highest murder rate in the world.
Cape Town was higher, last year.
And? I don't especially care about New Orleans: don't live there, wouldn't want to live there. It's a problem, but there isn't anything I can _do_ about it, so why worry?
About your larger point, maybe. If true I doubt it's a cultural thing but just the way people are.
That said, there are worse ways to be mugged. I had a friend develop a pretty bad smelling problem, and his sponsor in NA used to mug people by sticking a dirty needle into their neck and threatening to inject them with whatever was in it. Pretty savage.
I've never mugged anyone, but I would guess that the first step is to establish control over the victim. With a gun against an unarmed victim, the mugger gets control easily. With neither armed, the mugger might need to actually attack and force submission before the victim decides if he should fight back or not.
That's not to say that I hope to ever have one pointed at me.
Not to mention how much harder it is to shoot something moving, compared to something that isn't.
This being said, the US has a very high murder rate (triple its contemporaries) with the bulk of them done by handgun. It seems that it's not that easy after all to escape...
... and this is part of the problem with the gun debate on both sides - there's so much emotive argument on hypothetical situations, and very little examination of what actually happens in the world out there.
One example is "if mugged, would you rather knife or gun?", but that question doesn't allow for my answer "I'd rather have better social programmes so the chances of being mugged in the first place are lower".
A hammer or steel bar, on the other hand, is not immediately threatening because for the most part they aren't used to harm people.
I was walking behind a guy this weekend and noticed a Glock sticking out of the back of his pants. It's a little unnerving that one would just stroll around with a weapon that can do so much damage, so easily, in such a casual way.
As a Canadian living in the US, I don't think I will ever get used to the sight of casually toting around guns on the street - particularly when it's just tucked into your waistband.
To be fair though, there are holsters that go inside the pants hiding the gun and leaving only the handle sticking out.
EDIT: I'm not denying that you saw that guy with the glock, but your last sentence makes it sound like it's a common occurrence in the States, and it really isn't.
Remember that you are dealing more likely than not with a psychopath; it's as psychologically easy for them to knife you as to shoot you. The issue is that a gun is technically harder to use than a knife. Even at 10 feet, trained marksmen regularly miss moving targets.
"I slashed people, rifle-butted them. I was punching and kicking. It was either me or them. It didn't seem real. Anybody can pull a trigger from a distance, but we got up close and personal."
20 insurgents killed at knife point with zero British killed.
I had my MBP taken with http://preyproject.com/ installed. Now I live outside the US , (in Ireland) and while the police where helpful & curious about how the tech worked, they just did not do anything, even though I got a photo of the guy, his first name and geo location of his apartment block in the first week.
So 3 months later, and although I'm still watching the guy watching porn on my laptop, I have built up a substantial profile of him, through persistent (obsessive according to my girlfriend) tracking.
So just this week I passed on the following details to the cops
- phone number
- postal address
- bank account no
- online betting account no
- lots of photos of him and his flatmates/friends.
They were kinda shocked I was still on the case, but said they will dispatch someone to go pick up the laptop this week.
So my advice; if you stick with it, and hand them the case on a plate it might work out.
This is how one hacker got his computer back from a thief after tracking him for a few years.
Prey, Hidden or Undercover.
It does have a few small bugs, and one thing I didn't like is the 100 report limit. You see, the 100 rpt limit means that if you want to do 2min monitoring you have to really keep on top of the reports.
Overall 2 thumbs up from me for prey.
Unless, this guy had my MacBook in a viral ad campaign that is.
Edit: Here's the owner of the MacBook http://twitter.com/#!/jmk He seems real, but he does work for an agency that specialises in interactive ad campaigns.
Now, this could still end up being marketing and the world may still Rapture on Oct 21. But if Hidden weren't your client before this, they should be afterwards.
He's been posting off/on to his personal FB/Flickr accounts about the stolen laptop saga for a few months now, and mentioned setting something like this up to try and get some attention after he pretty much exhausted all his other avenues. Looks like that part worked :)
Hope someone recognizes the scumbag (if he turns out the be the thief that is...)
I'm also really surprised that hiddenapp.com didn't link to this blog on their splash page. Let's say you build an app and someone use it and popularize it, would you link to it on your frontpage? Of course; that'll give you even more credibility. It probably doesn't link to it mainly because they don't want to be associated with this ad campaign.
> I reported the crime to the police
It's typically frowned upon, in a manner of speaking, to file false reports. This would be a terribly stupid campaign.
edit: I suppose he could be lying about filing. Don't know if that's a thing...
[edit: only on hacker news would it be necessary to post a link: [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epimenides_paradox]
The 'this app is awesome' comments, and the prominent FB like / Twitter plugs kind of lend credence to the theory too.
Sure, we could say "Yeah, but this software let the blog author see them absconding with the laptop," but debating the evidence is conducting a trial of sorts, without giving the accused the benefit of a chance to cross-examine their accusers and present their side of the story.
I'm very comfortable with the idea of using software like this to gather evidence, and I'm very comfortable with criticizing the police for failing to act, but I'm not comfortable with publishing these pictures.
As for a crime lower than stealing my bicycle: That's crazy. Even if you have a bicycle worth more than your laptop, the loss of time and possible identity theft that could happen with a lost laptop more than outweighs the financial loss of either.
Now onto a subjective matter. A bicycle is a highly personal item for many people. It may not involve identity theft, but for some people it involves a loss of freedom and mobility that can't be replaced easily. My current bicycle has been highly personalized for my use. Having it stolen would be like having a bit of my soul stolen.
If you don't feel the same way about your bike, I quite understand.
You said that "The dude lost his right to privacy when he stole a laptop." Did you notice what you just did? You convicted someone of an offence without trying them in a court of law. If we were in a jurisdiction where murder is a capital offence, you could use exactly the same logic for lynching and hanging a man without bothering to try him. He lost his right to life when he murdered, and we know he murdered, so fetch a rope and a horse.
Now some (strawman alert) might say that the evidence is overwhelming. Well, where do we draw the line? What's the rule for "We don't need a trial?" Pictures on the Internet? Eyewitness accounts?? Confessions? All of these have been proved unreliable in the past, which is why we have trials.
The court system and government should treat people as innocent until proven guilty. Private citizens have a lower responsibility.
At no point did the original poster claim that man stole his laptop - he merely stated that his laptop was stolen and posted pictures of the man currently possessing the stolen laptop. Other people assumed this man stole the laptop, which may or may not be accurate.
The man is in possession of stolen property. At some point we need to balance the owner's rights to retrieve stolen property against the right's of a man possessing stolen property to retain complete anonymity.
If elected officials do not enforce the law, the burden falls onto private citizens to do so. This is the common law with thousands of years of precedent.
2. Person A no longer has a laptop. Person A did not sell or give away this laptop. The laptop was stolen.
3. Person B now has the missing laptop.
Conclusion: Person B is in possession of a stolen laptop.
If you're not doing that, then no, it needn't be.
This guy also has every right to collect and publicize any information collected by the laptop which will help him locate it. He's titled it "This guy has my MacBook", not stole, and he hasn't posted anything irresponsibly that I've seen.
He has every right to collect the guy's personal information, too, but that doesn't mean he can use his credit card or publish his social security number.
I for once would pick living amongst a disorganized mob who would lynch me upon suspicion of doing something that I also consider unjust, over an organized society that would punish me, through the best procedures, for something that I find my fundamental right.
Neither case is ideal, obviously, but it's better for a society to miss procedures than a sense of individual rights.
Also, I think it is far easier for a society to build procedures/laws than change radically its perceptions on what is right and what is wrong.
Your hypothetical Craig's lister would be in possession of stolen goods.
In fact, having photos of the person improperly in possession of your property and not making any effort to identify that person could be perceived as being complicit in the arrangement.
You are conflating two distinct legal principles:
Caveat Emptor, the principle that the BUYER of property takes the risk of defects in that property (except in the case of fraud/misrepresentation on the part of the SELLER); and
A thief cannot convey good title, which is actually a fallacy. If you honestly purchase goods from a thief, for market value, without knowing that the goods are stolen, your interest in those goods actually trumps those of the original owner. Counter-intuitive huh?
The original owner has recourse only against the thief, as you are effectively an innocent party to the transaction.
Caveat emptor protects the seller against a careless purchase followed by buyer's remorse.
Merely possessing goods which are stolen is not a crime in any jurisdiction i'm aware of (and for good reason), this offence almost always implies a mental element of knowledge or at least suspicion as to the source of the goods.
My understanding was that the due diligence one is expected to conduct under caveat emptor would include ensuring the buyer had the legal title of the goods to be purchased, but this might be a regional variation or I could just be wrong.
Could be but one could also speculate the other direction. What if the robbery occurred in a very short time span, and the photo of him driving away was taken (assuming it was time and location stamped) during that time and in the immediate vicinity of the crime?
This would make it unlikely that a third party transaction had occurred.
a) the guy owns a laptop
b) he took pictures using it
Does it sound like I'm in the clear to post them anywhere I like?
Imagine taking a picture at a party with intoxicated people in it, do you get everyone's consent before snapping the pic? What about being filmed on security cam driving past an ATM? So those are two examples of where although you might not actively expect to be filmed, they are still protected filming locations.
I'm uneasy with this kind of plastering as well, it has this "mob lynching" vibe that is often for the worst rather than the best. It appeals to our worst instincts, and you can sense that the author is angry and we are helping him to punish this guy when we look at this.
I felt dirty to be honest. If you don't believe it, ask yourself: why didn't he blur his face ? Would his message be less efficient ?
Also, are you uncomfortable with the publishing to the extent that it is a punishment? I interpreted it as an attempt to get people's attention and thus make it more likely that his property is returned, rather than a punishment.
There's a whole "presumption of innocence" thing going on in my head. I feel like people are telling me that it only applies when they haven't been shown what looks at first glance like compelling evidence.
I think making all reasonable attempts, including creating a webpage, to identify that person is well within his rights.
As I acknowledged elsewhere, this is an excellent point, thank you.
Ah, now this is another matter. It looks like the author of this blog has this other person's GPS location and Google credentials. I am not an expert, but I am also not sure that publishing these pictures in this context is solely a question of identifying the person.
So even if he is careful to avoid a blatant accusation, I still don't like the implication and I don't think that identification is the purpose. If it was, it would be easy enough to get in touch with this person without explaining what this has to do with a laptop.
Also, from the photo's it is only clear that he has the guys email address, and even if he did have his password I'm not sure what he could do with it without committing a fairly serious offense.
I really have no idea how you would go about contacting this person without putting yourself in a compromised position. I realize that you do not want people to jump to conclusions as to this guys guilt, however, at the very least he would be a leading suspect in the theft of this laptop, and that is not the sort of person I'd meet for a coffee and to talk about him maybe giving back my laptop.
Also, if you emailed the guy and politely asked him to return the laptop how long do you think it would take for him to get rid of it on craigslist or ebay?
Therefore, attempting to get more information on who this person is in order to build evidence that the police might be interested in looking at seems quite reasonable.
This same location method is used by iPads and iPod Touches, which also don't usually have any better way of locating themselves. The WiFi technique is even used for iPhones, in the rare event that they can't use GPS or cell tower triangulation at a given point in time.
What if it turned out this guy did not steal it but bought it from someone? He, his house and a sleeping woman are now on the internet.
You should read the post here on HN about scanners at airports where we all are suspects. Everybody would scream about the privacy issues...
1.) He doesn't care whether the guy is the thief. He is publishing the photos in an act of non-vengeful vigilantism, with the hopes that someone will see or recognize the guy and contact the OP.
2.) He is assuming the guy is the thief. And, he is publishing the photos to harass/humiliate that person.
Personally I am comfortable with #1 but certainly not #2, for the reasons you cited. In #1, the guy's innocence (or lack thereof) is irrelevant to the OP's motivations.
At least he contacted the police first, who wouldn't act on the evidence and only then did he try to garner public support for his case by showing the world the evidence he had. He even did this without accusing the man in the pictures of anything other than possessing his laptop, which is a fact arising from the evidence, even if it hasn't been considered by a court. This case wouldn't even reach a courtroom if it weren't for the fact that this website eventually got the attention of the police.
Ideally the police should have just taken the evidence and investigated the case, but instead the justice system failed. What options did this guy have, other than drawing attention to the fact that the police didn't do their job? Grabbing his pitchfork and willfully instigating a real lynch mob? Letting his computer go?
In this case, the guy is using a photographic device that is not his (we don't know if he stole it or not), specifically, he is pointing the camera directly at his face. My gut feeling is that it would be a fine line to walk, but that there might be a decent argument that he has no reasonable expectation of privacy. It's not his device, he knows there's a camera in it, and he's pointing that camera at his face...
Just another way to look at it.
People would still be eager to punish the guy in the pictures, pre-trial and regardless of his story.
if you personally saw a murder you don't need no trial to know who is the killer. trial is to convince everybody else.
In this case, trial might be required to charge this guy with anything, but you can see him driving away with the laptop just as it was stolen. might not be enough to charge with theft, but pretty much enough for me.
I don't think you know why we have trials. We don't have trials to convince everyone else. We have trials because your eyesight alone is not sufficient evidence, you need to consider all of the facts, not just what you think you saw.
That is not how causality works in this universe.
In the USA these kinds of allegations are made public whereas in France both parties (alleged victim and alleged per(p|v)) are treated the same private way until a court deliberates.