POLICE have praised public efforts acting as additional eyes and ears in the community to help bring criminals to justice.
A letter to the editor published in the Advertiser on Wednesday questioned why the public was only made aware of father-and-son fugitives Mark and Gino Stocco after they opened fire at police, which would see them arrested two weeks later and bring their eight years on the run to a close.
“While the public had no actual hands on to the arrests, the progressive information given to the police no doubt made their job easier,” Tony Thompson said in his letter.
“Would it not be beneficial to all if details of wanted criminals were made to the public as a regular media update so the police would have a lot more yes and ears on the ground providing valuable information to police?”
Wagga crime manager, Detective Inspector Darren Cloake, believed the power of social media was a double-edged sword.
The matter of the Stoccos was made difficult by it being a tri-state search, but public information was invaluable in leading to their arrest, he added.
“There’s evidence to suggest when police publish Australia’s most wanted (names), they change their behaviour,” Detective Inspector Cloake said.
There’s evidence to suggest when police publish Australia’s most wanted (names), they change their behaviour.- Detective Inspector Darren Cloake
“Where do you start and where do you stop.”
The heavily-armed duo left farmland near Campbelltown and made their way to the Riverina in a stolen vehicle two weeks ago.
“The community are certainly our eyes and ears and that certainly helped,” Detective Inspector Cloake said.
“There was significant public pressure that kept them on the run, kept them moving.
“Everyone was looking.”
Hundreds of crime stopper reports and possible sightings relayed to police eventually led to the Stoccos’ arrest near Dunedoo on October 28.
Gino, 57, and Mark, 36, were each charged with 17 offences, including the murder of the caretaker on the property they were seized.
As an example of social media’s effectiveness, Detective Inspector Cloake pointed to the successful arrest of two males wanted over a string of break and enters on Wednesday morning, after posting one of the men’s names on the Wagga Police Facebook account less than two hours earlier.
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