When a New York newspaper published an interactive map linked to the names and addresses of gun owners in its distribution area, it thought it was serving the community. Turns out, it may have been serving criminals in the area.
According to a Fox News report
, a handful of reformed criminals say if the map had come out when they were in the game, they would have used it to not only avoid homes with guns but also to try to steal guns for themselves. One thief said guns were at the top of the list of things to steal.
“[The newspaper] just created an opportunity for some crimes to be committed and I think it’s exceptionally stupid,” said Bob Portenier, a former burglar who now does crime prevention work.
“Criminals are always looking for opportunity and words travels through the grapevine — burglars trade secrets and when you see something like that in the paper, that's something burglars are going to talk about,” Portenier said.
Frank Abignale, who came to fame for his real-life criminal mischief story popularized in the film "Catch Me If You Can," shared similar opinions with Fox.
"It is unbelievable that a newspaper or so-called journalist would publish the names and addresses of legal gun owners, including federal agents, law enforcement officers and the like," said Abagnale, who now also works in crime consulting. "This would be equivalent to publishing the names of individuals who keep substantial sums of money, jewelry and valuables in their home."
On the interactive map published online by The Journal News
, users could zoom in, seeing the exact names and addresses of pistol permit holders. The Dec. 24 article accompanying the map was titled "The gun owner next door: What you don't know about the weapons in your neighborhood," and was in response to the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
The information in the piece was obtained legally through a Freedom of Information Act request, showing all of Westchester and Rockland counties in New York.
After it was published, The Journal News hired armed guards
to protect its office after a massive amount of negative response received.
A Putnam County official later refused
to provide the newspaper with the names of gun owners after the paper filed a separate FOIA request there.
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