When Gold Coast musician Saint Lane, 25, woke up to find a luxury car had been stolen from outside his house, he did what most people would do and called the police.
Around 11pm last Monday night, police stopped the Audi Q5 — which had belonged to Lane’s recently deceased father — at Oxenford and arrested four teens aged between 13 and 17 they allege are responsible.
For most people that would have been the end of it.
But when Lane saw what he believed were two of the alleged youth offenders posting to social media just hours after the arrest, he took matters into his own hands to expose the alleged thieves.
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Lane posted CCTV footage taken by cameras around his house allegedly capturing the teens in the early hours of last Monday morning to his Instagram page, where he now has more than 9000 followers.
In the days following he continued to post more information on the alleged youth offenders, including private messages, photo, and their names that he had tracked down through their social media accounts.
“The media has to protect the identities of the people who stole my car because they’re underage,” Lane wrote on one of the earliest posts, a TikTok duet depicting him dancing alongside a video of one of the alleged youth offenders and writing their first names in the caption.
“Thankfully TikTok is a public forum.”
WHAT THE LAW SAYS
“Social media is the same as traditional media under Queensland laws,” the state’s Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs told news.com.au.
Under the Youth Justice Act, penalties can apply for “identifying information about a child”, and it covers “television, radio, the internet, newspapers, periodical, notice, circular or other forms of communication”.
That was news to Saint Lane when news.com.au told him on Tuesday, and while he said “he might archive some posts”, he stood by his actions, which he said were achieving varying results.
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Soon after posting about them on social media, Lane said he was contacted by one of the alleged offenders, who initially apologised, but by his claim were soon back to their old ways.
Another alleged youth offender was said to be “unbelievably embarrassed” after being exposed for lying about their family circumstances to their friend circle and might have actually been set straight.
“They apologised to their family yesterday, that was the final straw, and then I took the video down … job done,” he said.
He said he messaged the teen telling them to stay in school and out of trouble, or the video could go back up.
“The justice system kind of just lets these kids go which is so frustrating for people who are victims of crime, there’s a degree of consequence which I’ve given these kids, I was hoping that would deter them but it’s still not doing anything,” he said.
He said he hasn’t heard anything about him potentially breaking the law, but he said the public would be on his side.
“Can you imagine a world where a dude says ‘hey these kids stole my dead dad’s car, they broke into my house when I was asleep’, and I got in more trouble for saying that they did it than they did for doing it? That would literally show the complete hypocrisy.”
“This is definitely not some hill I want to die on … it’s just wild how there’s no repercussions for any of these kids man.”
RESPONSE TO CAMPAIGN
Lane said after he identified one alleged youth offender, their mother reached out and Lane posted video of him interviewing her, where he agrees that social media is likely a contributing factor to these kids acting out for attention online.
Lane laughed off suggestions that he could be doing the same thing.
“Definitely at no point was any of this for clout, I’ve got a publicist. If I wanted some clout I would have told them to get the PR going.”
LANE’S CRUSADE OVER FOR NOW
Shortly after talking to news.com.au Saint Lane posted to Instagram again, featuring a video taken on Monday night of him and his friends dancing to one of his unreleased songs on the same CCTV camera that had captured the alleged youth offenders.
“I have now received all the apologies I need and can go back to focusing on finishing my next record,” he told followers.
“Social media is the be all end all for these guys, it’s bigger than the law. Me calling them out was the only way they were going to stop. They know if I see them stealing cars or breaking into houses again their TikToks will be reupload (sic) for the world to see.
“Hopefully by my actions for the last week we have prevented a future tragedy and allowed these young men and women to take a hard look and re-evaluate their friendship circles and what they are doing for clout,” he said.