Jan 112013

Motor vehicle theft in Aberdeen has gone through the roof with a value over £1 million last year.  Could this surge in crime have anything to do with a local Facebook page which glamourises car and motorbike theft?  A document  circulating in Aberdeen detailing the online and on-street behaviour of the ‘AberdeenBoyz Stig ftp’ group has been sent to Aberdeen Voice. Phoebe Copeland writes.

This week Grampian police cautioned theft victim Lesley Ross.  She made a series of Facebook postings after her car was stolen which featured swear words and the wish that whoever stole her Audi would wind up wrapped around a telephone pole.

What, if any, law was violated by Ms Ross is unknown.  The Daily Record reported her story yesterday, which led to widespread criticism of the Grampian police.

In the meantime, the same police force has not taken any known action against a Facebook page,  AberdeenBoyz Stig ftp (‘ftp’ is a well-known abbreviation meaning f**k the police). 

The site’s main purpose, or rather, its only purpose appears to be advocating vehicle theft, with an emphasis on Audis and other high-performance cars.  Shocking images include:

  • photos of vehicles, motorbikes and bicycles – some burnt out
  • images explaining how to start a car without a key
  • videos purport to show people driving in stolen vehicles
  • images of hooded / masked people in cars or bikes believed to be stolen
  • images of vehicles thought to have been stolen with comments indicating a crime has been committed

The page has over 400 friends, clearly identified in this ‘open’ group, meaning anyone can freely see who is involved and view the images.  These ‘friends ‘include people who claim to work for or are associated with the following companies:

  • NHS Grampian
  • Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital
  • Four Seasons Healthcare
  • Oakbank Residential Home
  • Rowan Court Nursing  Home
  • Aberdeen City Council
  • Instant Neighbour
  • Kirkcaldy Pet Shop
  • Sub Atlantic
  • Scot Oil
  • Schlumberger
  • Proseve
  • TAQA

There appears to be a strong connection with Harlaw Academy, with the page owner apparently also connected to Harlaw.  Other schools are also well represented.

It is hoped the police will be investigating urgently. At the time of writing the page is still online and it is a mystery why there has been no sign whatsoever of any arrests connected to the page.  Last week, Grampian police found six stolen cars and charged 11 people with related offences.

In the last quarter of 2012 approximately 86 people were arrested, some in their teens.  Yet there the Facebook page remains, equating grand theft with excitement and fun.  This crime has victims, and can result in criminal charges for thrill-seekers, reduce any future employment prospects, and of course lead to serious injury and even death.

It is very worrying that some of these friends work with some of society’s most vulnerable people including the elderly, the infirm, and people with special abilities and children.

If these people willingly advocate theft, then this indicates an elevated risk to the people in their care.

If they condone theft, and care little about the victims of theft, then the level of compassion and care they provide to those they are responsible for also becomes questionable.

Another great concern is that people who support this page would have knowledge of their clients’, neighbours’ and co-workers’ movements, and therefore in a position to pass information about high-performance car owners’ holidays and whereabouts on to those prepared to steal vehicles.

While it is not certain by any means, nor implied that these ‘friends’ are involved in criminal activity, they are supporting a page which glamourises and offers instruction on theft of vehicles.  Employers and school officials are already thought to be scouring the site.

How they will respond to the discovery that their firms or schools feature on this page along with photos of their employees or students remains to be seen.

At the time of writing, the page is still  available for anyone with a Facebook account to view.  How much longer this will remain to be the case is unknown.  Anyone who had a car, bike, bicycle or other vehicle stolen may wish to look at the over 40 photos of stolen items.

In the meantime, you may wish to  remove valuables and spare keys from your car and keep any spare vehicle keys hidden away as the thieves have been known to break into homes and take keys from key racks, etc.

Do not allow any suspicious behaviour to go unreported, and above all, do not put your own safety at risk by attempting to intervene should you witness what appears to be a theft in progress.

Despite the high level of this type of crime in the city, luckily, no one has yet been killed.  Sadly has not been the case in Glasgow.  Christopher Grenfell was found responsible for the death of James Simpson, a law-biding elderly pensioner, on 29 November 2011.

Simpson was trying to stop his car being stolen and the thief callously ran him over, killing him on his own property.   What started out as yet another car theft and ended in an innocent man’s death and a thief turned murderer getting a life sentence.

It is hoped the Grampian Police will take immediate action to tackle organised vehicle crime which appears to have been allowed to thrive here.

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  17 Responses to “Grand Theft Auto: Aberdeen Version”

  1. Great story. This is how Social Media ought to be.

  2. My elderly grandmother was in Rowan Court, she had jewelry and ornaments go missing, which were never recovered. I did speak informally with the social work inspectorate and decided to not to pursue the matter with the police in case there were repercussions against my grandmother.

  3. Great story, good factual points, and it still surprises me that the law enforcement agency is still dragging its feet, although I did hear tonight they have arrested a young lad for the theft & destruction of the Audi r5 that was stolen just a couple of days ago.
    This does not mean anything to the people of Aberdeen, and the thieves out there, the residents are still angry, and scared, the thieves even more ambitious to go on their rampage of terror.

    If a high profile outing of these so called “louts” is not forthcoming, I can see the power of Social Media sites like Facebook turning out yet another more frightening sequel to these events, vigilante groups, just like neighborhood watch, but a lot more violent.

    Scary as it may sound, but that’s what I have been hearing, and if these people turn up at hospital saying a mob did it to them, then I saw nothing, i heard nothing, and i never will …..

  4. Have you showed the page to the police or just left it for someone else to report ?

  5. An excellent article. I have been following a lot of the threads recently regarding motor theft in Aberdeen and couldn’t agree more with the point made here.

  6. This is social media journalism at it’s best, thank you. We’ve the right to know these things-and now, thanks to you, we do. Clearly, you are keeping within the publishing laws regarding live cases, so one has to wonder why the local press did not also publish a more thorough and far-reaching investigation into what is clearly a huge problem in our city/shire at the moment.

  7. I am concerned to see that you are concluding that “friends” of this page are partaking in the vehicle theft or in fact condoning it. When I first heard of this Facebook page I immediately went to have a look, only to find the page wall posts were private unless you became a “friend”. I was tempted to click that and would have done but only to see the wall posts and the discussions taking place by these vehicle thieves, does that make me an accessory to their crimes? Does it make my employer NHS Grampian an accessory to their crimes? Does it mean that my work as a nurse is poorly done and that I treat people poorly? Be careful of how you consider the “friends” of this page as they may just be inquisitive as a lot of the posts are not visible unless you do befriend the page.

    As far as the rest of this article goes, it is so concerning for the residents of Aberdeen that these practices are not being tackled, I have heard reference to vigilante responses being the next step which concerns me even more.

    As a family we have taken steps to enhance security at our house but to be completely honest, should an intruder still decide to somehow break into our house with the intention of theft of any item I am sure I will not confront them. I do not want to be beaten in my own home for trying to protect my belongings and I certainly do not want to end up with criminal charges for defending my home should I be given opportunity to do so. Its terrifying to think that if I picked up a household item and threw it at an intruder because I was scared for the lives of my children and my family I would be the one who ended up on the wrong side of the police.

  8. My car was stolen two years ago i know who buy have told the police and they haven’t done anything despite me making 3 complaints against them now. they don’t want to lock these scumbags up becouse they are keeping them in a job.

  9. Typical Grampian Police incompetence.

  10. This article seems to imply that the facebook page should be shut down- which would mean the police lose their richest source of evidence, leads and persons of interest- doesnt seem like a smart move to me…

  11. Whilst I don’t agree with theft or crime, this article is poorly written and seems to miss the point. I also agree with Nurse that you cannot infer that ‘friends’ of said group partake in car theft and are are therefore a risk to people. Just saying.

  12. ‘FaceBook’?
    ‘special abilities’??

  13. Absolutely the kind of issue for which Aberdeen Voice is crying out. Somewhat diminished by assuming any Facebook page’s friends automatically sympathise with its aims. People have been known to ‘like’ pages run by those whose views they can’t abide simply to enable commenting (Barney Crockett Is A Disgrace To Democracy is a good example). They also ‘like’ pages promoting behaviour they wouldn’t dream of engaging in themselves because it’s vicarious online stuff, innit? But let’s imagine someone at the NHS looks through the group’s friends as a result of reading this and says: “Oh, there’s young Jimmy, the theatre orderly from Foresterhill.” Whether or not young Jimmy has ever had as much as a fleeting thought about stealing cars, the consequences could be dire. It’s the page admins and picture posters we should be trying to expose, not where people work. Also a bit concerned by the author’s assertion that: “If these people willingly advocate theft, then this indicates an elevated risk to the people in their care.” Really? Some of the most professional, dedicated, competent and compassionate people I’ve ever known have been complete nutters that got up to all sorts off duty. Otherwise informative. Might be in the P&J by Christmas.

  14. — “What, if any, law was violated by Ms Ross is unknown.”

    This is wrong, I don’t have it on hand (search Google and you’ll find it) but it is illegal to post “offensive” messages online and you can be imprisoned for up to 6 months for it.

    However my guess is they asked her not to inflame the situation, boring sure but the likely answer.

  15. Yes I agree with Nurse and JM. As an employer I would be more concerned with the vigilanties, as some of these thieves family members who have done everything possible, regarding their son/daughter/brother/sister’s behaviour may work alongside the victims of car crime.
    Upon reading the vigilanties comments would they adopt the same attitude at work and resort to bulling/violence in the workplace.
    I believe the police used the theives pages as evidence and subsequently this lead to arrests, things seemed to get worse after vigilanties started up.
    I also am aware that insurance companies were going to be putting their premiums up anyway, this just gave them an excuse.

  16. I do not agree what there doing but I think your completely wrong in saying that some people who are friends with them work with that companys, just because there friends with them on Facebook has no importance with who they work for or if they know each other! that statement can lead to a few people being dismissed from there occupation due to you not getting your facts correct! A lot of people on social media websites like this just add them to be nosey to see what there written etc. and to egg them on at times!

  17. I’m getting one of these! http://amzn.to/VoC9al

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