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Police 2.0? Hitting Back At The Online Mafia

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[ Technology]

The Internet is helping citizens to take the law into their own hands, and if the trend continues, it may lead to online registries devoted to more than just stolen bicycles.

The Washington Post goes into detail about a man spotting his custom $3000 bicycle showing up for sale on Craigslist for a third of what it was worth.

(Worth, of course, is a relative term, and cycling enthusiasts will have to forgive my astonishment that something you have to pedal costs more than a decent dirt bike that you don’t. But I’m as much country as I am rock-n-roll, so you’ll have to cut me some slack.)

The WaPo article talks about how, with the success of online marketplaces like eBay and Craigslist, it’s become a lot easier for thieves to peddle off their fenced goods. One bike shop owner made it sound as if there were a sort of e-mafia developing.

Though "vigilante" might be a strong word to use (WaPo used it, not me, as the term brings to mind some Charles Bronson flicks, or at least that creepy Italian Simpsons kid whose first word is Vendetta!), but victims of unmotorized transport thieves have help online when the local police fail to retrieve.

A website like stolenbicycleregistry.com, which keeps a database of stolen bikes populated by victims, also has a search component that lets potential buyers run serial numbers to check out a bike they’re looking to buy.

Stolenbicycleregistry.com isn’t alone in the world. There are other sites, like stolenipods.com, which of course sells tracking software, but also offers a place for people to "unlose" their iPods and offer rewards.

The utility such sites offer is akin to the necessity of having a police force, a fire department, a neighborhood watch. And if you ask me, if a webmaster wanted to create the next big thing, he or she might consider offering a repository for lost or stolen items.

Police 2.0? Hitting Back At The Online Mafia
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