Teens Using Social Media to Coordinate Vandalism

Out of all of the potential uses of social media, this one reveals the dark side of digital communications.

Long gone are the days when organized crime took place down dark alleyways and in cold basement apartments. Today’s organized crime is happening on Facebook and Twitter, and your teenager could be involved.

In the last four months, we’ve seen at least five instances of theft and vandalism among youth, and all evidence points to online networking.

Earlier this year, it was reported that a group of young women robbed a Victoria’s Secret in Georgetown, Washington in a flash mob that was organized on Facebook. Prior to that incident, children in Nevada swarmed a City Stop connivence store, getting away with more than $600 worth of merchandise, as the below video explains.

…. many more stories follow the same plot-line, including this latest story tracing this thread of internet-organized crime:

Jason Perlow, a writer for  ZD net, tells a first-hand account of media-organized crime. Perlow’s story takes place while he  is house hunting in south Florida. He’s wanted to get out of New York and move somewhere warmer, and found in Florida “a tremendous glut of  available real estate”: cheap, unoccupied houses, since the economic meltdown has forced so many families out of their homes.

Perlow visited the house in Coral Springs earlier that week and described it as “a pristine four-bedroom, three-bathroom home with open-floor plan, vaulted ceilings, swimming pool and fully remodeled kitchen.”

When he  viewed the house for the third time, Perlow noticed a junk removal truck in the yard. He said he was confused, since the house was empty. He walked inside to discover the house had been ruined: Writes Perlow, “[w]ater was spilled all over the entire floor of the home, and the hardwood was ruined and was being ripped out […] and the toilets smashed.”

Local officals discovered soon after that Florida teenagers had broken into the house the evening before and used it (and its pool) as a party pad.

Perlow soon learned that the house in Coral Springs was not a single incident, and that this organized crime happens all the time in Florida, with particularly high rates of vandalism given the number of empty homes.

It was soon determined that the teens used both Twitter and Facebook to coordinate their attacks.

These past two years, we’ve seen the subversive and revolutionary side of social media—the side that orchestrated the Arab springs and Occupy Wall Street—but slowly, we’re beginning to realize the corrupt uses  of web 2.0. I can’t help but think about what these teens could achieve if they directed their efforts in productive rather than destructive ways.

@Amanda Cosco is a freelance writer, content queen & social media girl genius. To learn more about her, visit her professional blog here.