New Oakland police pilot program uses social media to stop car break-ins

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Wednesday, October 25, 2023
New OPD pilot program uses social media to stop car break-ins
The Oakland Police Department will test a new pilot program designed to stop car break-ins using social media.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- This weekend, the Oakland Police Department will test a new pilot program designed to stop car break-ins. But it doesn't rely on people calling 911 -- it's using social media instead.

"This year alone, we have had 11,300 locked auto burglaries in the city. That is up 36% from 2022," says Interim Assistant Chief Tony Jones with the Oakland Police Department.

OPD says it has been focused on tackling auto break-ins since May.

"We have increased our violence suppression units that operate in the areas where the crime is being committed. We also brought back our foot patrol units in the downtown area and deployed them to businesses that are mostly affected," said Deputy Chief James Beere.

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According to the department's own numbers, it's working. Acting Captain Casey Johnson says the Hegenberger Road and the 98th Avenue corridors are areas in Oakland with the highest auto burglaries, in part due the high number of travelers and easy access to freeways.

"Since July, with the focus with our foot patrol officers and dedicated overtime burglary suppression teams, we have seen a 50% reduction in weekly auto burglaries in these two locations alone," said Acting Captain Casey Johnson.

But Interim Assistant Chief Jones says even more is being done. This weekend, OPD is launching a pilot program where people can report an auto burglary on Instagram and X, formerly known as Twitter, using the handle: @OaklandAutoBurg.

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"If you send that stuff to us immediately, we are going to have staff monitoring the platforms, and they will be able to relay intelligence or the information to our surveillance teams that we are going to have in the city," Jones said.

Jones acknowledges that there are many unknowns as to how effective this programs will be. Just announcing it may deter crime this weekend. But he says the department is committed to thinking outside of the box to find ways to fight crime.

"With the community's help, if they can direct us to where these things are occurring at, with the air assets, with the undercover officers, we will be able to track the vehicles down and make the arrest rapidly," he said.

The pilot program run is this weekend only. If effective, it could be used again.

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