Gangs Go Cyber, Cops Cracking the Code

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Updated: 9/14/2009 8:50 pm Published: 9/14/2009 12:10 pm

Several thousand gang members in the Tulsa area are using social networking websites to communicate, according to local law enforcement. 

It's called "cyber banging," a form of on-line gang banging.

"They've moved up to sophisticated levels now like everybody else in their criminal enterprise," Sgt. Andy Choate of the Bixby Police Department said.  "The danger is what they're posting."

A local expert says members will create unique user names to communicate with other gang members using cryptic codes.  Often times, their dialogue will include misspelled words, truncated phrases, and clues to possible retaliation and recruitment events.

Police are taking a creative approach to "crack the code" by joining social networking sites and creating fake user names and pages to anonymously interact with gang members.  By doing this, police can obtain tips about suspects and crimes.

"You may find someone discussing sells of narcotics to plans to retaliate on another group," Sgt. Choate said.  "We'll seek those people out, educate or prosecute them."

Because of the dangers of "cyberbanging," law enforcement advises average users to protect their personal information by avoiding posts of phone numbers or school names.

Experts report that social networking is becoming more pervasive, which is why it's common among gang members.

"Anything that can enhance or make communication easier in our world teens an young people are jumping all over it," Dr. Susan Chinburg, Assistant Professor of Applied Technology at Rogers State University.

Common networking sites used by gang members include: Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and Xanga.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

mr price - 7/4/2010 12:36 PM
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i totally agree with fox23 this so to speak (cyber-banging)is horrble. and shows the ignorence of our youth. i just hope it gets resovled and doesnt put a negative vision toward all the youth,(judgeing a book by the cover.) in other words those idividuals need to be punished in a validable yet firm way.For the violence and negativity that it gives to the rest of the youth. Who are innocent yet easily influenced. im michael and thank you for takeing the time of reading my comment have a very nice and blessed day
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