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Crave becomes a Texas Deputy, patrols Mexican border -- via the Web

Texas Sheriffs are recruiting Virtual Deputies to patrol the border with Mexico, via the Internet. We signed up to do our bit. We hope we get a badge and a cowboy hat

Howdy y'all. Crave has been deputised in the fight against illegal immigration and drug smuggling across the Tex-Mex border. We are now Virtual Texas Deputies, entrusted with the task of monitoring the Lone Star State from our very own guard tower -- in rain-lashed South London. How? That new-fangled wonder folks call the Web, friend.

The Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition has set up a network of webcams to stream video from the border in real-time, and has called for good men and true to sign up as Virtual Texas Deputies and act as sentinels of liberty.

The TBSC represents 20 counties along the 1,254-mile border separating the US from Mexico, with 15 cameras streaming to the Internet via a public-private partnership with BlueServo. BlueServo describes the scheme as a 'social network', which would definitely place it pretty high on our list of bizarre social networks.

Anyone anywhere can sign up to monitor the border -- the Guardian reports Australian pubgoers are getting involved. It's free, and you provide only an email address. Unfortunately this means you have to provide your own sheriff's badge, stetson and Ray-Ban Aviators. Moustaches are optional, but we imagine you wouldn't feel right without one.

Texas Sheriff webcam

Once you've signed up, you pick a camera and start watching, in night-vision monochrome. You're basically watching a river mosey past, but that's not the point. After all, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. John Wayne said that.

Should you spot any drug-smugglers or wannabe illegal aliens, simply fire off an anonymous email and local county Sheriffs will take a look. You and Virtual Texas Deputies manning these virtual guard towers apparently provide "millions of dollars in benefits to local border Sheriffs". The TBSC reckons it's turned back "significant numbers" of illegal immigrants, and bagged 2,000lb of marijuana since the scheme began in November 2008. Which just makes us wonder who's doing the washing-up in Texas restaurants and toiling in the fields.

The future of the system includes the ability for locals to connect their own cameras to BlueServo's network to create a giant Virtual Neighborhood Watch. Puts Google Street View to shame. BlueServo is also planning to monetise the network with ads. Now, if you'll excuse, reckon it's time for a hoedown.