One new rule for budding criminals in the 21st century updates a classic line from the 1995 movie Heat: If you feel the heat around the corner, shut down your MySpace page.
Put another way: In this brave, new world, your electronic footprint can come back to kick you in the ass.
Earlier this month, information emerged about a group of "stoner" Northeast Portland teenagers that calls itself FDP (for "Fuck Da Police") and which is now suspected in more than 40 burglaries. Most of the details about the ring were revealed in an affidavit police filed to get a search warrant for the home of the teens' alleged fence. The affidavit also states that David Hanning turned in two of his sons after he found a Parkrose High School class ring engraved with a name police then linked to a recent burglary.
So far, five teens have been arrested, ranging in age from 13 to 19, and they face various charges, including burglary, assault and receiving stolen property.
Just by rummaging around MySpace last week, WW found a 15-member "North east p town" MySpace group for the FDP, which lays its creed:
"rule 1. all cops are crooked (spare for a few chill ones) 2. fuck crackheads and tweekers and drug abusin bum heroin junkie fucks. 3.be down to brawl if if the homie needs troops. basically it."
One of the teens told police the "gang" controls a block at Northeast 66th Avenue and Wygant Street.
"They do—or did," says East Precinct Detective Sgt. Dave Anderson. "But I wouldn't say it's a gang like Bloods or Crips."
The teens' alleged fence tells WW that he agrees with Anderson.
"It's not a gang," says 19-year-old Wayne Leggett. "It's just a bunch of kids. They're not dangerous, just a few of the kids were dumb."
Police searched Leggett's home Dec. 5. He was arrested on Dec. 8 and charged with receiving stolen property. Police say they've linked several items from his home to recent burglaries.
"They put a bad name on my name and my house," Leggett says. "The neighborhood is full of old people who think we're all criminals. Even my dad and my mom. My dad was on the ground in handcuffs, and he was like, 'What is this for?'"
Leggett admits he bought some DVDs from the younger kids who hung around, but says he's not fencing stolen goods for them.
According to Leggett's MySpace profile, he is a "dark shadow spirit from a path taken you should have not, anyways im a rapper plus a father." He'd like to meet a girl that enjoys "sittin back at 4:20 and unloading stress to each other." (For the totally square: "Four-twenty" is slang for smoking pot.)
Much like the police descriptions, Leggett describes several of the teens' marijuana use as beyond the pale.
"They're perma-fried," he says. "You can't even really talk to them." (To read more of WW's interview with Leggett, visit wweek.com/wwire.)
Granted, in the anonymous world of cyberspace, WW can't absolutely prove that all the profiles we found are authentic. But there are good reasons to believe they are: With one exception, the profiles were tied to the teens' real names, they all predate the FDP publicity, and they have a high degree of overlap and interconnectedness.
WW isn't identifying the juveniles, but one 16-year-old who was arrested appears to have a MySpace profile under his own name (though it says he's 20) linked to the FDP MySpace group.
"I love skateing and chillin with the homies. I like to light stuff on fire and i hate the rain," his profile says.
Another arrested 16-year-old's profile says, "I like to skate and get faded and hang out with my girlfriend." His profile is accompanied by a photo of a long-haired youth blowing a smoke ring. (For the over-40 crowd, "faded" is West Coast slang for "being high/stoned/blazed," according to urbandictionary.com.)
Under "heroes" the teen lists "nobody," and about books he writes, "fuck books there for faggots."
The investigation is continuing, Anderson says, and more arrests are expected. So, was Anderson aware of the teens' MySpace pages?
"I don't do MySpace," he says with a chuckle.