[author: Aaron Kase]
Canadian police are searching for a lunatic who posted a video of himself on YouTube flying down a crowded highway at 187 miles per hour on a motorcycle, endangering himself and every other vehicle on the road. The exploit is only one of many in which people have incriminated themselves by putting footage of illegal activity on the Internet.
Rider identified but not yet apprehended
Three Chicago teens arrested after they taped themselves beating a man to death
Home video of crime like a gift bag to police and prosecutors
Randy’s Wild Ride
The footage has to be seen to be believed– a motorbike flying down the highway, weaving in and out of traffic and squeezing between of two lanes of vehicles down the center lane. The other cars on the ride appear almost at a standstill, which makes sense when you realize the motorcyclist is traveling at more than three times their speed. The ride occurred on the Trans-Canadian highway, where the speed limit is 50 mph– and the driver has the bike up to at least 186 mph.
Fortunately for law enforcement, the rider posted a video of his exploits online.
Click here to view video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ylDA3UV2eXc
Police didn’t have to work too hard to identify the rider. Though the video was originally posted anonymously under the name “Joe Blow,” investigators were able to see the IP address it was uploaded from, and combined that with tips from the public to track down their man. The alleged speed demon, 25-year-old Randy George Scott, has 25 previous infractions and faces up to five years in prison for his joyride. The blue Yamaha R-1 used to make the video has been captured, though Scott remains at large.
At least Scott’s alleged joyride, while extraordinarily reckless, didn’t cause any casualties. In Chicago this week it was a different story, as three teenagers filmed themselves robbing a 62-year-old man of $60 while beating him to death. One of the kids inexplicably posted the video of the homicide on Facebook, and all three of them were arrested within a week.
Be Thought a Fool
“‘Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt,’” cites Marsh Halberg, a criminal defense attorney in Minneapolis. “This quote has been attributed to many famous people including Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain. Unfortunately many criminals have not studied 19th Century history or literature -they not only speak about their crimes – they video the act itself and put it online.”
“The thought of committing a crime and recording a video of the wrongdoing is idiotic. To then go the extra step and actively post your own crime on the Internet is beyond stupid,” Halberg says.
The list of idiotic criminals is only growing. Some other instances of people broadcasting their crimes to the world include Miami gang members threatening police with assault rifles, Wisconsin men playing with a stolen police taser and two teenagers in California beating up a 13-year-old girl.
“This is happening far more than one might think,” says Halberg. “Some people don’t recognize the very public nature of the Internet. An online posting will most likely seen by someone else who will report it to law enforcement.”
Everyone is Watching
There is nothing better than providing eye-witness video to give police cause to arrest you and prosecutors an airtight case to convict you of whatever crime you thought necessary to commit, film and broadcast.
“Culprits may post their video using a fictitious name, but the posting can be traced back to an IP address, and that address will be traced to a computer,” Halberg says. “The police can easily obtain a search warrant to seize the computer. Law enforcement will use the video to identify what perpetrators are involved, where the act occurred (to establish the jurisdiction) and listen to any audio to put the offense in context.”
Even if you aren’t dumb enough to record and broadcast your exploits yourself, be aware that cameras in public places are proliferating and make the assumption that everything you do on a public street is subject to surveillance. Take the case of the cab driver in Philadelphia who was caught defecating on a Center City sidewalk this week. He must have thought squatting behind the cab door would afford him some measure of privacy, but a homeowner’s security camera captured the whole thing.
“People are starting to appreciate that a great deal of their conduct is now subject to eternal fame on the Internet,” Halberg says. “Everyone has a cell phone and even if you are not recording your own conduct, you better assume someone else is.”