31 March 2010

Google Earth used to solve crime

A police officer in western Florida has used Google Earth to solve a crime.
Santa Rosa County Deputy, Gregory Barnes, was trying to track down the owner of a one tonne fishing boat illegally dumped in a car park. The boat did not have a number plate or any other identifying details on it.

After drawing a blank using conventional research methods, Barnes used Google Earth to find where the boat had been located in the weeks leading up to its dumping.

The boat was traced to Dwight Everett Foster after Google Earth images showed it parked next to his house. Mr Foster is now facing a fine for dumping rubbish illegally.

I love stories about the Internet being used to solve crime, so this one is right up my alley. It's great to see Google Earth being used inventively and for all a good cause. Anything that helps solve crime rates highly in my books.

Have you heard of any other stories about Google tools being used inventively for the common good?

29 March 2010

Have you got your Royal Parks Half Marathon place yet?

A few of my friends have been trying to get places for the Royal Parks Half Marathon for the past couple of hours - supposedly the Royal Parks website isn't coping so well with the demand.

If you're after a place for Royal Parks and haven't had any luck getting one directly, never fear, Crimestoppers is here.

The charity has guaranteed places for the race. They're sure to fill up so get in touch and express your interest if you're keen.

It's meant to be an amazing day and all Crimestoppers runners receive the full support of the charity's fundraising team.

If you have already got yourself a place then Crimestoppers would love to have you run as an Own Place Runner for Crimestoppers. You will receive the same support as our charity place runners, but you can set your own fundraising targets.

Interested? There's more information on running the Royal Parks Half Marathon for Crimestoppers on their website.

22 March 2010

Anti-theft bikes - what would you like to see designed next?

I really liked the Caped Crimestopper's blog post about the Design Out Crime programme. It's great to see industries other than those traditionally linked to law enforcement working to reduce glass injuries and make nights out safer for all of us.

Other products are also being designed to help reduce crime - did you know you can get anti-theft bikes? Laptops unlocked using the owner's fingerprint are becoming more common as well.

The kind folk at the Design Against Crime Research Centre have written an article for Crimestoppers on how burglars’ habits are changing as well as how design can help to prevent and deter crime. It's a good read and is on the Crimestoppers website - excelente!

What other products would you like to see designed to make them safer?

18 March 2010

Claudia Lawrence one year on - reward still available

Claudia Lawrence, a chef from York, was last seen a year ago today. Since her disappearance, Claudia's family have campaigned for information on whereabouts. Police are treating the case as one of suspected murder.

To mark one year since Claudia Lawrence's disappearance, North Yorkshire Police have made a video appealing for information on what happened to her.

I'm incredibly lucky that I've never known anyone who has gone missing or come to serious harm. I can only imagine how hard it must be for Claudia's family and friends to deal with the constant wondering and worry that comes with not knowing where someone you love is.

Someone, somewhere must know what happened to Claudia and it's time for that person to come forward.

Crimestoppers is offering a £10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved in her disappearance. Information must be passed to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 to qualify. All callers will remain anonymous and calls are not traced or recorded.

If you don't know what happened to Claudia but want to help, send the link of this blog post on to your loved ones and help us spread the word.

17 March 2010

Cheers to safer pint glasses

Happy St Patrick's Day! I'm not Irish but I still like to celebrate St Patrick's Day as though I am. Every year I try to get to my local Irish pub to have a pint of Guinness and a pie.
In my experience, St Patrick’s Day celebrations can sometimes get a little rowdy. If you’re celebrating St Patrick’s Day tonight, remember to keep an eye on your pint glass. There are about 87,000 violent incidents a year involving glass a year in the UK.
Safer pint glasses
Hopefully within the next few years pub brawls involving glass will be a thing of the past – new glasses that don’t shatter in the same way as normal ones are on the way. The new glasses have been created as part of the Design Out Crime programme, an initiative from the Home Office’s Design and Technology Alliance Against Crime and the Design Council.

Designed to be safer, but also a more popular alternative to plastic, the two new designs are the first major advance in glassware for pubs since the 1960s. They are:
  • Glass Plus - looks just like a regular pint glass but has a thin transparent coating of bio-resin on the inside. This makes it stronger and if the glass is broken it binds together dangerous shards - drastically reducing the likelihood of injury to customers and staff.
  • Twin Wall - a revolutionary design, made by bonding two ultra-thin layers of glass together in a concept similar to laminated car windscreens. It makes the pint glass extremely difficult to break, but in the event that it does smash, any dangerous shards would be safely held together by a layer of resin.
I think it’s great that design is being used to help prevent crime. These glasses look great and let’s be honest, anything that helps keep us safer on nights out is definitely a good thing.
If you're interested in designing out crime and the future of the humble pint glass, watch the video from the Home Office.

Cheers to a safer pint this St Patrick's Day.

16 March 2010

UK criminals in Amsterdam - can you help track them down?

Today Crimestoppers announced the launch of Operation Return. It's a new campaign that aims to track down UK criminals that are thought to be on the run in the Netherlands.

I've been looking through the details of the six most wanted and there's some nasty looking people on the Operation Return list.

There's Rezgar Zengana - he posed as a taxi driver and collected a lady from an office Christmas party in Glasgow. Zengana drove her to a private dwelling and raped her. He was convicted in Glasgow but went on the run before he was sentenced.

What a vile thing to do!!

Brian Bradshaw is another of the most wanted. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and grievous bodily harm and was sentenced to over eight years in jail. He absconded from prison while on temporary licence for a work project.

Both of these men are believed to on the run in the Netherlands.

People who commit crimes like this need to be brought to justice and you can help. Look through the appeals on Crimestoppers Most Wanted website. If you recognise any of the wanted men or have information on them, pass this onto Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555 111 or filling out our online information giving form.

None of us what people like these walking our streets so it's important we all work together to track them done.

11 March 2010

Sheep: edible, entertaining and a mystery

Over the past couple of weeks it seems the UK has gone sheep-crazy. The other night I was flicking through the telly channels when I stumbled across Lambing Live - a show which, according to the BBC website, follows "the life and death drama of lambing".

The only real involvement I've had with lambs before is in the form of a lamb tapas or a lamb roast. I was surprised to see just how much action happens on farms.

Reading the news today it seems that lambs are not only a source of television entertainment and food, but also a source of mystery amongst police.

Mystery sheep

Police in Dumfries and Galloway have said that they are looking for a missing flock of 17 Jacobs sheep. It's not known exactly when the sheep went missing, between 2 February and 5 March is the estimate, but police have revealed that there were no holes in the paddock fence. Hmmm... It seems we have an old-fashioned mystery on our hands.

I'll keep you posted if I hear any updates on this one.

10 March 2010

Get a cab with Ricky Hatton

A month or so ago I told you all about the Fight crime campaign that boxing legend Ricky Hatton is running with Crimestoppers.

If you’re out in Manchester and spot one of Ricky Hatton's posters or his face on a taxi, take a sneaky photo of it and send it in. I’ll post your shot up on the I spy a crime blog so those from the rest of the world can see what all the fuss is about.

Ricky's face is about to become a lot more common on the streets of the north west – his Fight crime posters are appearing on cabs for the next eight weeks.

8 March 2010

Reporting fraud

Fraud is second only to drugs in the affect it has on society. It costs each adult in the UK over £600 a year. If you have suffered as a result of fraud you might fall into the one in two that despite being a victim of fraud, didn't report the crime.

I work hard for my money and don't want some crook benefiting from it. By reporting fraud and those involved in crime, you are helping make it harder for fraudsters to strike again.

You hopefully know by now that you can report those committing frauds or scams to Crimestoppers, but do you know what to do if you are unlucky enough to be a victim of fraud? No? Well keep on reading, I'll tell you!

Fraud victims

If you are a victim of fraud you should report this to Action Fraud. Action Fraud is operated by the government's National Fraud Authority. It is a place where people can get more information about frauds and current scams, as well as report crimes they have experienced.

No more excuses, let's reduce the number of fraud cases that go unreported. It's only by working together that we can put these crooks out of business and ensure that all of the pounds you earn, stay where they belong, with you.

5 March 2010

Buying a used car

I've decided to buy a new car. The Batmobile is great, but it's not really meeting my needs anymore. Not enough boot space, no power steering, only three doors... I imagine myself driving something quick and sporty, that's still functional.

That said, finding a replacement for the Batmobile is proving more difficult than I had hoped... Superhero cars seem to be quite niche and as a crime-fighter, I want to make sure that I'm not accidentally buying a stolen or illegal vehicle.

Whenever I see a car that I'm interested in, I always check with the AA or HPI to make sure it wasn't written off or stolen in a previous life. Did you know that 24% of cars checked by the HPI are still subject to outstanding finance? Even after checking a car's history, I still insist on seeing its service log. It's just too risky to buy a car or bike without seeing it first.

I also want to only buy a car that I've had the chance to see in person first (obviously while exercising the usual cautions about meeting strangers). That way I can check that any security etchings match and haven't been removed.

Have you ever gotten in to trouble while buying a second hand car? Wish me luck, hopefully I'll have a new ride soon.

3 March 2010

Man sniffs drugs off police car

I blogged a few weeks ago about the problems touching and kissing a police dog can cause. I've got another story for you about what not to do (unless you want to get arrested).

A man in the German city of Nuremberg was caught trying to sniff drugs off the roof of an unmarked police car. The man didn't realise that the car belonged to the police and didn't notice the officers walking towards him. Wow, I wouldn't want to try explaining my way out of that one! A police spokesman, Bert Rauenbusch, described the man as having "horrible luck."

Hopefully the man learnt his lesson and will be keeping his nose clear of drugs in the future!