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Do you 'like' your local police?

Victoria Police is taking its Facebook page concept 'Eyewatch' to communities state-wide. If you decide to 'like' them, prepare for photofits and police band pictures galore.

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Caught on camera in the dead of night, with an item of washing draped over his head, the man managed to look both menacing and ridiculous.

The resident of a Northcote property had noticed items of laundry going missing from the washing line late at night and had managed to take a photo of the alleged culprit. And now the picture was on a police Facebook page with a plea for public help to identify the man.

''Aren't they called snowdroppers? People who snatch your undies for kicks. They can have my old granny pants … '' one Facebook user posted under the picture.

November 4, 2012, Northcote.

November 4, 2012, Northcote

In the 14 months since the six police ''Eyewatch'' pages were set up - for the public transport unit and Darebin, Geelong, Brimbank, Yarra Ranges and Hobsons Bay areas - more than 8000 Facebook users have ''liked'' them, and several crimes have been solved by people who have browsed photos or read police alerts.

''We saw the benefits of sharing information with the community,'' Inspector Tony Langdon, from the Safer Communities unit, said.

''We realised that we have to try different methods to engage with the community, getting more benefit out of it to identify suspects in crimes, providing good messages to people about how they can keep safe in their homes and on the street.''

Wanted offender taken from police 'eyewatch' facebook pages. Click for more photos

Police 'eyewatch' facebook

Wanted offender taken from police 'eyewatch' facebook pages.

  • Wanted offender taken from police 'eyewatch' facebook pages.
  • Wanted offender taken from police 'eyewatch' facebook pages.
  • Wanted offender taken from police 'eyewatch' facebook pages.
  • Wanted offender taken from police 'eyewatch' facebook pages.
  • Wanted offender taken from police 'eyewatch' facebook pages.
  • Wanted offender taken from police 'eyewatch' facebook pages.
  • Wanted offender taken from police 'eyewatch' facebook pages.
  • Wanted offender taken from police 'eyewatch' facebook pages.

Among the crimes solved are an ''indecent act'' on the Lilydale train line, criminal damage on the Frankston line, another incident of criminal damage in a Northcote bank, an assault in Altona and hoon driving in the Yarra Ranges.

Another tip on the Yarra Ranges page last year led Fairfax to a Facebook page where people were selling illegal weapons including tasers, pistols, swords and pit bulls.

Now the Eyewatch trial is being expanded to another 11 police service areas across Victoria, as senior police and Police Minister Kim Wells will announce on Wednesday.

While police have the power to remove any abusive or legally problematic posts, they have become used to banter with regular posters on the pages.

The Yarra Ranges page, in particular, is always good for some spirited debate about police priorities.

''People can comment on our pages, but they can't post videos and images and they can't set up their own posts on them,'' Inspector Langdon said.

''It is a challenge for some of us to accept that people will have a different opinion to us, but we're quite conscious that a lot of the time the community actually moderates the pages themselves.

''There has been a bit of banter, but I think it's been quite good. It shows us in a more human light and that we can accept some form of criticism as long as it doesn't go past the norm.''

The pages also have quite distinctive personalities, Inspector Langdon says, with people in the Yarra Ranges - which has a combination of a high proportion of elderly residents and relatively quiet and isolated roads - complaining most about hooning.

The Geelong page, covering an area with a high concentration of CCTV cameras, carries a large number of images of people wanted for shoplifting, petrol drive-offs and other types of theft.

''I'll be interested to see what happens with Frankston, because Frankston has a lot of CCTV as well,'' Inspector Langdon said.

The new Eyewatch pages will cover the Bendigo, Boroondara, Casey, Frankston, Hume, Latrobe, Maribyrnong, Melbourne West, Mildura, Stonnington and Wyndham police service areas.