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Tracking gang activity in Greensboro

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Greensboro detectives say local gangs are finding new ways to communicate with members, including turning to social media.

Officers with the Criminal Intelligence Unit actively use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to uncover information about gangs, meetings and members.

One detective, who could not publish his name because he is actively investigating gang-related cases, told Fox8 gang activity has highs and lows over the years. He believes right now there is a bit more gang violence in Greenboro than usual.

"I think a lot of things have become more active," he said, attributing more crime to economic struggles. "B&E's of autos, home invasions, we've seen quite a bit of that. And gang activity is no different."

He explained many people associate gangs with certain colors worn every day or tattoos that show gang pride. But those sort of signs are becoming less and less obvious, he said, as gang members turn to social media.

"Gang members' messages might seem convoluted or like they have bad grammar and no education," he explained. "But that's far from the truth." Those can actually be signatures or messages for gang members, and detectives work to decode those messages and track down gang activity.

One of his concerns is that gangs can target kids as young as ten or eleven years old to join. "With a middle school age kid you say, hey you could get this money, you can have this jewelry... we'll be there for you, we're your family, we really care about you," the detective explained. "They'll talk about the good things about being in a gang. But we know there's nothing good about being in a gang."

Andrea Smith lives near the recent shootings and moved from New York to escape violence. She hates to hear of it in Greensboro recently. "It's hurting our community. It's hurting our children. We don't want to make it where the senior citizens are scared to go out so please, please just stop the violence. It's ridiculous."

School resource officers are helpful in keeping tabs on gangs and violence, said the detective. He encourages anyone with concerns about neighborhood gangs to call the Greensboro Police Department.

4 comments

  • Elspeth Alston

    A conviction of participating in gang activity should carry a life w/o parole sentence, with an escalation to a death sentence if criminal activity was committed while participating in gang activity.

    Gangs are ruining this country. Additionally, if gang members want to control blocks of land, let them pay taxes on all properties on those blocks.

  • Faith

    Citizens need to protect themselves. There would be a lot less home invasions if they knew people were armed.

  • Dopple

    A good way to handle gangs is the proper intelligence and the national guard. Shoot to kill and put a stop to it. Another way could be to have the CIA to secretly clean them up. Make them disappear.

  • Diane Purcell

    Its sad that these thugs will try to recruit the younger and more impressionable youth that are merely seeking to belong to something. There are some that manage to get out of that lifestyle of violence and crime, but many see nothing other than to aspire to be lifelong gangsters. They don’t realize it’s a short life, ending abruptly in death or a life long prison term. We need to set an example and make SURE when they go to prison, they stay there and are not out in a year to run the streets again, with the notch in their belt of jail time. It’s all over the country – in cities and small towns. Most law enforcement with experience know EXACTLY who is involved, who is without hope and which youngsters need an ‘out’. Gangs don’t care WHO gets hurt and destroy their own homes, families, and neighborhoods. It’s a mess.

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