How you can fight crime with gadgets

The very mention of crime-fighting with gadgets can conjure up images of an explosive Hollywood thriller featuring a vengeful-but-cool Matt Damon taking down a bad guy.

You don’t need to be Matt Damon to frustrate a criminal…

Those of you with a more literal mind may just imagine an unsuspecting burglar fleeing from your property after you’ve pelted them with a batch of iPods...

One of the unfortunate downsides of owning the best tech is that it can also attract the attention of thieves. But there are plenty of ways for you to fight back using your gadgets without pelting suspects with them.

Back in February, former England rugby union captain Will Carling left his iPad on a train. It wasn’t handed in immediately, so Will used the MobileMe app to track where his beloved iPad was headed for.

He tracked it down to a block of flats, but got no response from each of the 18 apartments when he knocked. Eventually he began sending messages to the device, letting them know it was being tracked before finally encouraging them to make a trip to a nearby police station.

Just a couple of days after it had gone missing, Will was able to collect his iPad from the police station. Without the help of the clever MobileMe app, he’d probably never have seen it again. That’s some good crime-fightin’.

But you really like stories of geeks using gadgets to overcome criminals, then you only have to look over the pond.

I’m watching you

Joshua Kaufman’s MacBook was stolen from his apartment in California in March. After reporting the incident to the police, he began tracking his MacBook using a hidden app.

Using pictures taken via the iSight camera and screenshots of what the person in possession of the MacBook was getting up to, Joshua set up a blog – it went viral.

Police were later able to make an arrest using the information Joshua had gathered and he was reunited with his favourite Apple gadget.

Trying to thwart criminals by using tech doesn’t need to stop with apps. Surrey Police are tweeting about every vehicle-related crime reported to them this week. The police force also said it would consider tweeting about every 999 call if the public are in favour of the measure.

Other police forces around the country are just as hot on Twitter, so if you want to do something about a stolen vehicle, then you can always re-tweet the appeal and help spread the word.

It’s all gone a bit CSI

It’s also worth keeping a digital camera to hand, because you never know what you might see. Your snaps of a crime scene could help the police with an investigation, or catch a criminal in the act.

But if it’s the threat of cyber crime that keeps you awake at night, you’ll need antivirus software to keep your personal details secure on your laptop or desktop PC, and away from hackers.

It might not be as glamorous or dramatic as chasing down a bag-snatcher and performing a citizen’s arrest, but there’s plenty of clever ways to assist the police and keep your own gadgets safe, the geeky way.

Have you got any smart apps or handy tips for keeping your possessions away from criminals? Comment below or tweet @DixonsinTheKnow