Thief maps lets netizens fight crime

With the approach of Spring Festival and the associated shopping season, street thieves are becoming more active. Ever-vigilant netizens are releasing a new series of "thief maps" (小偷地图).

On February 8th, Nanjing's Dongfang Weibao (东方卫报) reported on this Nanjing "thief map" released by the online forum Anti-pickpocket Alliance (反扒联盟网). The red dots indicate incidences of theft, which coalesce into a belt connecting central Nanjing's most popular shopping and dining areas.

Similarly, on the forum BusZone, Shanghai commuters are reporting incidents of theft and incorporating them into a "Shanghai public transport thief map". The mapping is being done with the online mapping service provided by search engine Sogou. One user named "roger" has even created a 5 star rating system for ranking the danger of different locations.

As early as 2005, China Daily reported on a Shanghai "thief map" created by one individual. Now these maps are generated in an open-source fashion with many users contributing individual sightings and run-ins with thieves. Similar mapping initiatives for several cities can be found across different web forums.

The maps themselves can be composed with Google Maps or copycats like Sougou's service that allow content to be added to maps. Simple image editors work as well. Some maps focus on specific location, others on public transportation--which bus lines have the most pickpocket activity.

This type of online cooperation is reminiscent of the "smart mob" phenomenon as observed in China, where forums and SMS messaging serve as platforms for organizing offline social action. In this case, netizens are encouraged to watch out for instances of theft and then contribute to a site that collects case descriptions and locational information in aggregate.

In some cases, netizens go so far as to intervene. The Anti-pickpocket Alliance site organizes "volunteers" to patrol for pickpockets. The site has recently been criticized for publishing the picture of a vigilante triumphantly holding down an alleged thief by his hair.

For now, the authorities are being cautious but supportive. According to an official statement from Nanjing's public security bureau, "Public security, while working to combat crime, also supports the struggle of the masses against criminals. However, when citizens take up this struggle, they should conduct themselves according to the law."

Shanghai authorities doubt the reliability of the BusZone map. "[The map] indeed serves to raise vigilance, however it lacks credibility. These are untrained contributors who express personal experiences with theft that haven't been officially verified."

That is what the critics said about Wikipedia.

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There are currently 1 Comments for Thief maps lets netizens fight crime.

Comments on Thief maps lets netizens fight crime

Useful to know these people go to such lengths, one can but wonder why citizens should have to employ 'Hot spotting' and criminal intelligence collation techniques... why are the PSB not publishing such information? Statistics and lies perhaps?

My comment is actually a question... does such a map exist for Beijing? If so how can one find it?

kind regards

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