To Catch A Thief! The Modern Way

At a recent RAG (Risk Assurance Group), I was listening to the ‘Wise Heads’ panel. The mediator Eric Priezkalns asked my friend and colleague Adrian Harris, what he thought about the progress in technology and was it what Adrian expected. It was a difficult but relevant and interesting question. Well that got me thinking and I made an immediate association with an unfortunate event I had recently experienced.

In  January I was broken in to at home, they smashed in a window, took my wife’s jewellery and made their escape in my son’s car, we had left the keys in our hallway!  The police took over 5 hours to get to us… It turned out that the police were stretched to their maximum because the opportunist robbers had in fact broken in to 11 houses in our area. The cops had to deal with not only a high number of robberies, but more relevantly they were hindered by the number of police officers on the beat. Now we all hear people making comments about the number of available police officers and how the level of services has dropped, but, apart from the 5 hour wait, our experience was very positive. Here we are 4 months later and the main perpetrator of the crime is doing 6 years in prison.

Now how did that happen and how is it relevant to the original RAG question about the progress in technology? OK, here is what happened.

My son’s car was his pride and joy, he had a photo of it in his phone, or is that his camera or his gallery? Whichever it was, he had instant access to an image of his car. During the 5 hour wait he posted that image on to his Facebook account, with the story of the robbery. Within 48 hours that image and story was shared 726 times on Facebook. Within 72 hours we had feedback from several people including dashcam footage of my son’s car with good images of the perpetrators. The village shop had a CCTV system that showed the felons going in to a house opposite. The police were able to trace my son’s car using ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) technology and they worked out the general area where they operated from. The Police gave us and the other 10 victims regular and detailed updates on the progress of the investigation via e-mail.

So Adrian, if you were asked the question again, what would your answer be? A device that enables you to not only make calls, but take and store photographs, send and receive correspondence, post and receive stories with your friends? Surely you would not be able to carry such a thing! Devices that can record people’s movements outside your property? Devices that can read your cars number plate and feed back to a centralised system that can instantly record your whereabouts?

I think we predicted many things, but the mobile phone and digital technology has changed our lives by many factors and all but a few people would have predicted that! The potential of the technology we have today, and is being created tomorrow is immense but the next step is maximising that potential, which we arguably haven’t done in the RA and Fraud space.

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