Burglars are infiltrating Redbridge Whatsapp groups, resident warns

Pc King said Streetwatch members are vetted before joining. Picture: Yui Mok

Pc King said Streetwatch members are vetted before joining. Picture: Yui Mok - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

A whistleblowing resident wants to warn the public about criminals infiltrating neighbourhood social media groups.

The 27-year-old, who wants to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, said she knows of burglars posing as residents to gain personal information.

“It is so dangerous as not only are the people on the groups vulnerable if they share information about themselves, but it puts the resident patrols in danger as these criminals are one step ahead.

“They know where they are going to be and how they are going to respond.”

She said it is especially bad when residents share images of “dodgy looking people” in the area.

At worst they are targeting an innocent person and at best they could be adding flames “to fuel the situation”.

“To some of the guys who see their images shared it is such an ego boost,” she added.

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“They feel as if they are somehow famous.

“I also feel sorry for the innocent people who get their images shared on social media. They are going about their daily business and get followed by patrollers and are unfairly targeted.”

Pc Kate King of Clayhall Safer Neighbourhood Team said that while groups such as neighbourhood WhatsApp groups can provide supportive networks and encourage community cohesion they also come with dangers.

“Just because they are your neighbours doesn’t mean you know anything about them or who has access to reading their phone.” she said.

“That is why we set up Streetwatch – every participant is vetted.

“We have had more than 100 sign up but not everybody had been successful in their application”

At the last review of the stats, Pc King said the burglary rate was actually going down on her patch and she is encouraging residents to report any incidents.

She also explained that there is a misconception that the police will not do anything if crimes are flagged up.

“Yes there are less of us but we are still there, we are always available,” she said.

“We work on intelligence and when residents report incidences it helps us build up a picture.

“It allows us to police the area better.”

For more information email streetwatchredbridge@gmail.com