CHEMICALS stolen from a business in the State’s west have been identified by the owner after he recognised the products on Facebook.The owner contacted authorities within hours after police posted photographs of the chemicals on their Rural Eyewatch Facebook page.“It was a very quick result and something we may not have got previously,” said commander of police for the western region, Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKechnie.

NSW Police last week used the Australian National Field Days at Orange to officially launch its State-wide Rural Eyewatch page, which is being described as “neighbourhood watch in the 21st century”, allowing people to stay up to date with rural crime alerts and to communicate with police.

Superintendent McKechnie said the site had already received about 18,000 hits and had about 560 fans.

While he admits he is “no Facebook guru”, he believes the social media tool will make it easier to stay abreast of rural crime issues.

“It doesn’t replace calling the police, but it allows us to disseminate information about suspicious vehicles, suspicious activities, and to get the message out there quickly to our Facebook fans, so they’re aware of something that may be happening in their community,” Superintendent McKechnie said.

“The advantage for us is instead of one pair of eyes looking, we’ve got 50 or 500 pairs of eyes.”