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.