Excerpt from NST Daily, 8 Sept 2006
When text messages can backfire
08 Sep 2006
KUALA LUMPUR: It may be hip and a sign of the times, but the growing trend of circulating text messages on kidnap and abduction cases is making matters hard for police.
Different types of crime require different approaches. What may work in a case of car theft or snatch theft may not work when there’s been a kidnapping.
In advising the public to stop this practice, Federal CID director Datuk Fauzi Saari told the New Straits Times yesterday that kidnappers would have warned the victim’s family not to go to the police. "There is the danger that the widely circulated text messages may reach the kidnappers’ mobile phones. This would endanger the victim.
"Also, the element of secrecy is required as police have their own plans and action to set into motion," he said.
"If a crime is committed, then lodge a report in person. There are procedures police have to follow before investigation papers can be opened.
"Sending text messages does not constitute lodging a police report. We do not know if it is a hoax or genuine call for help. Even those who forward the messages don’t know if it is a hoax or not."
Fauzi said at the very least, police would need a "first information report", which detailed the crime, its nature, where it happened and who was involved, so that they had something to work on.
"But what is happening now is that the text message is being circulated far and wide before it reaches the police. We will not act on it as it is difficult to determine its authenticity."
As an example, Fauzi cited a case which created a stir on Aug 28: A girl who was abducted by five men at the parking lot of the Ipoh Shopping Parade.
Her boyfriend sent text messages to friends, urging them to contact police if they spotted their vehicle. The messages took on a life of their own, reaching the Klang Valley.
"By then, the original message was distorted to such an extent that no one knew where the girl was abducted from. Some received a text saying the incident had occurred at Subang Parade!"
Selangor police sent a team to Subang Parade. By then, the girl was safe and the vehicle found. Two days later, the messages were still in circulation.
Fauzi advised victims to send the text message to Rakan Cop, which would be constituted as a report.
Also, enlisting the help of friends by chain text messaging can be applied when it is a case of snatch or car thefts.
Some of us in the HAM community may have received this message and feeling the need to help, may have circulated this to other stations, via sms as well as through the local 2M network.
So perhaps, it is wise to take a step back and evaluate using this simple steps;
1.verify statement from the person who received it (make sure that it is first hand info, not QSP from QSP from QSP)
2.As a responsible person passing on information, you are responsible for the facts
(If some of you may recall, a simple message sent some time ago lead to some serious twisting of facts, as in the case with this sms)
3.If it involves element of crime, do take the steps as advised by the authorities (refer above article)
4.Messages sent through Amateur Radio waves should follow the guidelines set by the governing authorities (refer MCMC guidelines as to do's and don'ts)
In summary, we all mean well, but do not get yourself prosecuted for sending wrong news!