PEOPLE alleging crimes have been committed are being urged to contact police rather than highlight issues on social media.
Sergeant Chris Asenjo, of the Warrnambool police sexual offences and child abuse investigation team, said if information about possible crimes was worth putting on Facebook, then the first thing people should do was contact police.
His comments were sparked following reports in Melbourne media last week that a red utility seen in the Nullawarre and Warrnambool areas had allegedly been involved in an attempted abduction after the issue was initially raised on Facebook.
Sergeant Asenjo said police inquiries had failed to establish a link between sightings of a red ute and any sexual offending.
“If people have information about a possible offence, please contact police,” he said.
Sergeant Asenjo said claims highlighted in such a way led to numerous calls to police which had little or no relevance to possible crimes.
He said one caller contacted police with the registration number of a similar vehicle which was for sale.
The policeman’s request follows regular action in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court concerning social media outlet Facebook.
Intervention order applications are usually held on Fridays at the court, with up to half of cases some weeks relating to Facebook comments and disputes.
Most weeks there would be about 30 intervention order applications made to the court.
There are also cases heard weekly relating to Facebook where comments have escalated to criminal conduct.
Late last month a Warrnambool woman pleaded guilty to arming herself with a tyre lever to confront another woman who called her a paedophile on Facebook.
She was convicted and fined $1500 for using threatening words, possessing a dangerous article and dangerous driving.
Magistrate Jonathan Klestadt said at the time the case appalled him in many ways.
He said the defendant was attacked on Facebook but people said and wrote stupid things on the social website all the time. He said a victim of such behaviour was not then entitled to arm themselves and threaten violence in response.
“The way people use Facebook to vilify and abuse others is a scandal,” Mr Klestadt said. “What is worse is that people think they can take the law into their own hands. If this keeps going, pretty soon we will be in a lawless community.”