At last count there are more than 627,000 active pilots in the United States. That comes out to over 2.5 million eyes and ears. It’s the power of that number of eyes and ears that makes what I’m about to introduce an extremely powerful tool for general aviation security.
You’ve probably heard the law enforcement term BOLO, or Be On the Look Out. In a BOLO message law enforcement officers are typically given a description of a person or vehicle, a last known location, and a direction of travel. The BOLO message is sent out quickly by radio or text message. This simple communication leverages the power of multiple eyes and ears distributed throughout an area with the intent of picking up the trail and apprehending a criminal shortly after a crime is committed. The point here is that a BOLO message focuses the attention of a group of people so that a criminal can be apprehended and stolen property returned.
From time to time someone decides to steal an airplane. Thanks to the support of General Aviation News, I am asking for your help in setting up a nationwide picket line of general aviators to reduce the success rate of aircraft thefts. But rather than send the message by radio or individual text message, I will send BOLO messages by Twitter.
Here’s how it works: When someone discovers that their aircraft has been stolen and AFTER they contact their local law enforcement agency, they contact me at email@example.com or call me at 210-723-8745. I will send out a BOLO message as a Tweet on a Twitter account that is intended for BOLO messages only. The Twitter account is GenAvBOLO. I am also dedicating a portion of the home page of Planehook.com to provide the same BOLO information. If the owner sends me a digital photo of their stolen aircraft, then I will distribute that photo in the Tweet and post it on the Planehook.com home page as well.
The intent is not to get between the aircraft owner and law enforcement. The idea is to develop more and better real-time leads by providing useful information for the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction. No private eye stuff. No vigilantism. The BOLO program is just good old community involvement — something like a nationwide neighborhood watch program. The BOLO program will leverage the eyes and ears of all of us — fellow aviators helping to return the stolen aircraft to its rightful owner.
What is required? Participants will need to have a Twitter account and follow GenAvBOLO in order to receive immediate Tweet messages. If you don’t want to have a free Twitter account, you will be able to see the BOLO messages at Twitter.com/GenAvBOLO.
What do you do? If you see the BOLO aircraft, call the law enforcement agency given in the Tweet. Give them a Who-What-Where-When message and your telephone number or send them an email with the same information, then let the law enforcement professionals do their job. The BOLO program is just that simple: General aviators taking care of fellow general aviators.
Working together we can discourage aircraft theft. If you have any questions about BOLO or suggestions to make this program even better, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 210- 723-8745.
Fly safe, and be secure!
Dave Hook, an expert on general aviation security, is president of Planehook Aviation Services, LLC in San Antonio, Texas.
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