One Cecilia Rodriguez had an insecure neighbourhood. A burglar was found in one of the neighbour’s house and along with other neighbours, they went to the neighbour’s aid, nabbed the thief until later when the police arrived and took the burglar away. However, Cecelia realised that the burglar was freed and decided to use social media to bolster security in her neighbourhood.
Rodriguez created a Facebook page called “Chapa tu choro” which translated from Spanish means “Catch your thief”. Apparently, a myriad of clones started appearing due to the popularity of the campaign. This is because in Peru, mob justice is “accepted” if you check studies like this due to the low confidence in the police. Some of the photos and videos that are shared are quite disturbing and you will notice it is the same thing you see in a typical mob justice scenario.
In an interesting twist, Peru’s interior minister admitted that he is not entirely negative about the campaign and actually wants to use the enthusiasm to encourage arrests made by citizens. However, he condemned mob justice and told them to hand the criminals over to the police instead. He also said that there were problems in the Peruvian police force and it was due to their limited reach or no enough men on the ground.
Another problem could be that the criminals might gang up and seek vengeance on the citizens for their actions. However, a Peruvian social scientist, Noam Lopez said that “These robbers don’t have guns, so residents aren’t afraid”
We’ve seen cases of social media being used to fight crime by the police but now citizens are using the same platforms to fight crime. Could social media be a major factor in reducing crime rates? We’ll have to see the statistics in the future.