For the last year, 14 members of a New York street gang were on a spree of robberies, assaults and burglaries in the Brower Park area of Crown Heights, but their greed and their need to share information on Facebook, as well as friending a cop on the social network, helped lead to their arrests.
On Thursday, Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes and New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly announced a 102-count indictment against 14 members the gang, known as the “Brower Boys.” Two were charged are juveniles, including a 13-year-old; the other defendants are between 15 and 19.
The “Brower Boys” committed a series of burglaries, climbing up and down apartment building fire escapes after taking electronic equipment, like laptops and cell phones, that they pawned, police say in the indictment. Most of the break-ins happened when residents weren’t home. But in one apartment robbery, four of the defendants, including the 13-year-old, tied up the residents, sexually assaulted a female resident and threatened to kill the victims if they called the police, according to the indictment.
In another case, one gang member, age 18, shot a resident of the home he was burglarizing, then was shot and injured himself in a struggle with the victim.
With such a busy — and criminal — schedule, it seems hard to fathom that gang members would use Facebook to discuss their business, but they did. They not only boasted about their acts, but they even fought with each other on the social network over who should get what when it came to the loot.
“Although some were as young as 13, the Brower Boys were old hands at burglaries and worse — victimizing neighbors, but making the mistake of fighting over the proceeds on Facebook,” said Kelly in a statement.
The police know this because, well, they were monitoring it. Kelly gave kudos to several officers in the case, and named Det. Michael Rodriquez, in particular. It was Rodriquez who “friended” seven of the gang members on Facebook. (The detective probably didn’t have “detective” in his Facebook name or request, and police aren’t saying what name he did use.)
And the gang members telegraphed their upcoming heists on Facebook as well, which helped get the police in place to videotape and record some of those incidents.
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