Should citizen anticrime work encourage filming local crime scenes for display on YouTube? That is what may happen in Washington, D.C.,’s LeDroit Park neighborhood. A brutal armed robbery at a market, caught on the store’s video camera, is available on YouTube. “I want the mayor, council member and the police chief to see this video,” Simon Mahteme, owner of LeDroit Park Market, tells the camera. “I’m tired of it. It’s not human behavior. I’m trying to make an honest living.”
The July 10 robbery was the latest of 10 break-ins and armed robberies since October at the market. A customer, outraged by constant vandalism in the historic neighborhood, posted the footage on the popular video-sharing site in hopes that a viewer would identify the robbers. Late last week, police charged a 17-year-old. They are not saying whether YouTube played a role, but the video got the attention of Mayor Adrian Fenty and Police Chief Cathy Lanier. Community members have raised $4,500 to buy a video camera for the building’s exterior, and residents and police are working together to connect it to the city’s network of crime cameras. Among issues to be worked out: Who would own and maintain the camera? And although some residents want to use the camera to monitor the goings-on at the store, police say the tapes can be used only after a crime has been committed.