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Last updated at 14:46 BST, Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Tracking crime on Twitter


28 August 2012

Growing numbers of residents of the American city of Los Angeles are taking an active interest in tracking crime. More and more of them are now tuning in to private radio conversations between police officers and spreading what they hear throughout the city.


Janet Barrie

Twitter app on the mobile phone


Click to hear the report


Scanning the airwaves for police radio conversations is something professional crime reporters have done for decades. But now a whole new group of people are embracing this old-school technique.

In Los Angeles a growing band of residents has invested in scanners to monitor police conversations and spread what they learn across the city on the social networking site Twitter. Between them they now have over thirty thousand Twitter followers.

Alex Thompson decided to buy a scanner when she realised how little she actually knew about crime in her area. She says she now never switches it off, even listening late at night in bed.

It's been an absolute revelation, she says, to find out what's really happening in her area, the crimes her fellow residents would normally never hear about.
Alex Thompson:

"When I first got the scanner for listening I was in shock – the way I described it I hid under my desk sucking my thumb for two weeks in disbelief of what I heard. But the reality is this is what is going on in my neighbourhood."


Click to hear the vocabulary



to search with a scanner


e.g. radio programmes or phone conversations

police radio conversations

private police conversations on wireless devices

crime reporters

journalists that report on criminal activity


people who live in an area or neighbourhood


to listen to

social networking site

a website used by many people to communicate e.g Facebook

Twitter followers

people who are interested in a person or topic on Twitter


what is really happening


a community in a town or city