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Kenyan Chief Foils Robbery Via Twitter 50

Posted by Soulskill
from the twitter-has-accomplished-something-useful dept.
PolygamousRanchKid writes with this quote from CNN: "A Kenyan chief in a town far from the bustling capital foiled a predawn robbery recently using Twitter, highlighting the far-reaching effects of social media in areas that don't have access to the Internet. Chief Francis Kariuki said he got a call in the dead of the night that thieves had broken into a neighbor's house. Local residents, who subscribe to his tweets through a free text messaging service, jumped into action. They surrounded the house, sending the thugs fleeing into the night. In the town 100 miles from Nairobi, a majority of residents don't have access to computers, the Internet or smart phones. The sporadic cyber cafes strewn across the landscape charge for Internet access. However, almost every household has a cell phone and text messages are a major form of communication in the nation."
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Kenyan Chief Foils Robbery Via Twitter

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  • M.O. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @04:40PM (#39088037) Journal

    "They tried to steal our filing cabinet of birth certificates!"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 18, 2012 @04:53PM (#39088139)

    He now needs your help moving the town's valuables out of the country, and would be willing to offer you 10% of the value as long as you deposit a cashier's check and make a western union transfer. God bless you.

    • by oiron (697563)

      Wrong side of the continent...

      What? Did you think the US was the only thing in the universe with two coasts?

      • by Urkki (668283)

        Wrong side of the continent...

        What? Did you think the US was the only thing in the universe with two coasts?

        Yeah, but Africa is so small. Only 6 letters. Also Africa is about the size of Greenland, as irrefutably proven by this map [mapsofworld.com]. And Greenland has only about 50k [wikipedia.org] people. That's how small Africa is, and so stuff like "which coast" is rather irrelevant.

  • Two Crimes Committed (Score:5, Informative)

    by retroworks (652802) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @05:03PM (#39088203) Homepage Journal
    Africa has more cell phones than toilets. http://blogs.worldbank.org/africacan/more-cell-phones-than-toilets [worldbank.org] The entire infrastructure was built on "e-waste", used cell phones were imported and hacked/jailbroken, which created enough subscribers for private sector companies to erect the towers. The free market bypassed the entire government-infrastructure track. Of course, there is evidence of a second crime here.... http://archive.basel.int/industry/mppi/gdfd30Jun2010.pdf [basel.int] Cell phones are labelled "e-waste" in Europe http://retroworks.blogspot.com/2011/09/new-world-order-interpol-calls.html [blogspot.com] and Africans who buy them have been declared "criminals" by Interpol.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I would think there are more cell phones than toilets every country. Cell phones are generally a 1:1 thing and toilets a 1:Many.
      • by MattBD (1157291)

        I would think there are more cell phones than toilets every country. Cell phones are generally a 1:1 thing and toilets a 1:Many.

        Not really. Most households in the developed world, will have two or more toilets nowadays, but there's also toilets in workplaces, and public toilets.

        • Yes, but never more toilets than people, and not usually in the lower-class either.
          It's easy to imagine 4-6 people with a single toilet at home, yet most of them having cell-phones.
          In many poorer places, the elderly live with their children, so no extra toilet there.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      I don't think your post or your links establish the crucial point: has anybody been prosecuted who was NOT improperly dumping toxic waste into the environment?
      • by retroworks (652802) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @07:24PM (#39089153) Homepage Journal
        Yep. Many have been prosecuted, many goods seized. Usually, it's someone like Mubarak, declaring working items "toxic waste". But it just takes a few seizures to put the chill on would be resellers and donors. In the UK, they take nice looking electronics, sabotage them, sell them to the Nigerians as "working", then bust the Nigerians for exporting waste. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/man-held-after-tonnes-of-illegal-ewaste-are-exported-to-africa-1816570.html [independent.co.uk] This week a study showed 85% of the ones imported into Ghana and Nigeria were working, and the material at the dump in Nigeria (described in the Guardian) was generated by Africans after years of use. A lot of innocent people are getting screwed. I realize it's a niche issue for many here. But go ahead and read the Guardian article, then read the /. report on the Basel study last weekend.
        • by timeOday (582209)
          Well, prosecutions and seizures are a good thing if the people really were cut-rate recyclers using damaging, illegal reclamation processes, unapproved dumps, and/or child labor. This is an actual, documented problem.

          Also, the Guardian article makes clear something that was not clear from your previous post: that this is not - at least on the face of it - just a conspiracy by western cellphone makers to stop Africans from getting cheap cellphones: "Under European law, equipment which is still functioning

        • Got some mod points, tried to mod this up - accidentally hit "off topic". Hopefully posting in this thread will reverse it.
    • by arcite (661011) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @06:47PM (#39088823)
      Perhaps this is how cellphones made their way initially, but the ICT revolution is built on sound business. There has been much investment from the Middle East and other telcom companies such as Vodafone. Cheap, low cost 'African' versions of phones are easily available for as little as $20. Cellphone services such as SMS, telephone banking, are revolutionizing hundreds of millions of lives. The great part is, this is still the beginning of the revolution, the next stage is to wire up everyone for highspeed internet, which is well underway, particularly in Kenya. I think, what you are really talking about is the shadow economy, or 'informal economy'. Laws are very flexible in many African nations, cargo containers full of all kinds of electronics make their way to the shores and docks of major African cities, e-waste included. However, most people would rather buy a store bought version if they can afford it, people like warranty after all. Indeed, there are thriving businesses for second hand cellphones, and even replacement parts and repair. Nothing goes to waste in Africa.
    • used cell phones were imported and hacked/jailbroken

      If they're mostly imported from Europe, they shouldn't need to jailbreak them - especially non-smartphones, which seems to be the bulk of devices in Africa.

    • by mikael (484)

      I'm just waiting for someone to post a picture of a portaloo built from broken mobile phones ...

    • used cell phones were imported and hacked/jailbroken, which created enough subscribers for private sector companies to erect the towers

      Doesn't seem to make sense, why would someone import and hack a cellphone into a country with no towers? There is no reason to spend time and resources doing this, if the phones won't work. A few individuals may have done this for their own purposes, but you would never have enough people carrying around useless cellphones, that a company would then say, "hey, let's build a tower/network"

      N.B. As I was actually living in an African country when cellphones were introduced, I happen to know that it was private

  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Saturday February 18, 2012 @05:08PM (#39088235)

    Oh please, people, these "burglars" are clearly "White Hat" and were simply penetration testing. Is it their fault the homestead was so easy to break into? The owner should be grateful and offer these Security Researchers a job watching their house.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @05:09PM (#39088245)

    Local residents, who subscribe to his tweets through a free text messaging service, jumped into action. They surrounded the house, sending the thugs fleeing into the night.

    Yeah, whenever I've tried spending any time following someone on Twitter - I usually end up fleeing into the night as well.

    You can only take so much rambling about being unable to pop a pimple or photos of what they've eaten...

  • Or rather, Tweetminster, who seem to be quite adept at planting PR stories in the news. Meanwhile on the ground - hardly anyone in Africa uses twitter. Those that have access to mobiles and/or the internet use MXit, despite what Tweetminster/Portland Communication's recycled press releases would have you believe
    • There are more Twitter users in Kenya than Egypt (which is arguably a richer country). You'd be surprised.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm guessing the chase scene looked like the New York City Marathon!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 18, 2012 @05:38PM (#39088405)

    ...text messages are a major form of communication in the nation."

    After vacationing in South Africa two years ago I'd claim that mobile phones aren't just a major form of communication in Kenya, but in all of sub-Saharan Africa.

    Rent a car, give them your mobile number; when you return it in you'll get a text confirming that they got it. Even if you handed the keys to someone in person and got a receipt, you'll still get a text. When you check out of your hotel you get a text. Etc., etc.

    Pretty much anything you do, if you gave them your mobile number, you'll get a text of some kind. And South Africa is unquestionably pretty advanced compared to much of the rest of Africa.

  • by timeOday (582209) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @06:03PM (#39088575)
    It's a pity the cnn report doesn't make the connection between this occurrence and its normal reporting on flash mobs, which is basically that the initial flash mobs were fun and benign but were later used to orchestrate looting. Of course the technology doesn't know when it's helping to preserve or violate property law.
  • by RoLi (141856) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @06:17PM (#39088665)

    ... but it might get you killed [in-other-news.com] in others.

  • Sorry, but this is the most awful example I've heard of how Twiter can be a useful "service"... What's the moral of the story? She didn't have to send the text multiple times? Or that she didn't get billed for multiple texts? She could always call or text directly...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've lived in Kenyan. What this story leaves out that is when the community catches someone burgling a house they very often end up beating/hacking to death with a shovel the thief. I can assure you this did not end well for the thief.

    • by oiron (697563)

      In a state with inadequate law enforcement, this is kind of inevitable... Turning them over to the authorities would probably just mean a bribe and a quick release with hardly a slap on the wrist. I assume that this would be the state in rural Kenya.

      Forgive me if I don't have too much sympathy, though. I'm sure that's part of the understood cost of doing (nocturnal) business in that place...

  • by wbr1 (2538558) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @07:27PM (#39089179)
    Thieves: "How'd you know we where the crooks?"

    Community:"A little birdie told us."
  • by jklappenbach (824031) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @07:56PM (#39089407) Journal
    I know the historical association is difficult to shake, but for billions of people on this planet, a cell phone will be their primary, and perhaps only computing resource. It's enough, however. With them, they can access the internet, send and receive text messages, and even in some classes of sub-smartphone devices, run applications. More than laptops, desktops, or any other computing factor, cell phones have lifted the standard of living for billions. With text messaging, literacy is promoted. With access to the internet, commerce, education, and knowledge of the world become available. Cell phones have changed the world, and IMHO, are one of the most powerful and transformative computing resources created to date.
  • Sadly it was the same ability to send messages to large numbers of people in near real time that contributed to the carnage of the post-election violence [wikipedia.org] in 2008.

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