Smartphone Sherlock: Apps to Fight Crime

It's elementary, my dear Watson—just use an app.

By David Isaac

Sherlock Holmes is the most famous detective of all time, literary or otherwise. What would he have done if he (or Arthur Conan Doyle) had had access to modern technology? Professor Moriarty might have been nicked before he got out of bed. Today's apps crowd-source the crime-fighting process so that you, too, can participate in detective work and help defeat modern-day Moriartys.

FBI Bank Robbers

The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently launched its FBI Bank Robbers app to complement the Bank Robbers website that it started back in 2012. FBI Bank Robbers is a smartly designed app.

As soon as you open the app, you'll see a list of bank robbers. Each entry includes a video surveillance image and a physical description of the wanted individual. (Some of the pictures are extremely sharp, which can't be good news for the persons shown here in all their unmasked glory.) Each entry also includes the date and location of the crime, and whether there is a reward. An entry-specific button leads to more information, a link to a wanted poster, and quick-contact buttons for calling the FBI or submitting a tip.

The FBI Bank Robbers app is available for iOS and Android.

My Police Department

The MyPD app builds on community by connecting you with your local law enforcement officers. When you first log in you're asked to set up a personal profile and identify your local police department. You'll see a list of department contacts. You can commend an officer, send questions, submit tips, and view the most wanted list. There's also a link to your local police department's Twitter feed. If you live in a lively area, the Twitter feed will include notifications like: "located turkey in the area of 71st/Thunderbird...looking for owner..." and then, "GREAT NEWS!! ... Animal Control reunited lost turkey with its owner ... thanks to media & citizens for help!!"

The MyPD app works in both the United States and Canada. But check to see whether your neighborhood is covered, as not all areas are linked up to the app.

MyPD is available for iOS and Android.

FlashFace


Police sketches continue to be an important tool in detective work. And with the FlashFace app, making sketches has never been easier or more accessible. It gives you access to presketched facial parts—eyes, ears, noses, beards and brows—so you don't need to know how to draw to produce a very good likeness. The result is a perfect representation of a police sketch, except that you made it.

Three versions of this app are available: FlashFace Free, FlashFace Full, and FlashFace Woman. In the free version you get five facial parts to work with. In the paid versions—Full and Woman—you get 800 and 900 parts respectively.

The FlashFace app is available on iOS and Android devices. The paid versions cost $4 each.

Credits: FBI Bank Robbers, My Police Department, FlashFace.