In the past, we have brought you stories of dumb criminals posting pictures of their crimes on their various social networking profiles, leading to open and shut cases for police and DAs. It’s the kind of criminal behavior that drives a criminal defense attorney crazy.
Police in Austin have decided to take a more proactive approach to solving crimes through social media, setting up their own Facebook page in an attempt to reach out to the public and get tips. Right now, the Facebook profile is being used by the burglary task force. They post pictures of items stolen and of suspects and ask the public to contact them through social media if they have any information.
A few years ago, the burglary task force was solving just 5% of all burglaries in the area. Now, thanks to initiatives like creating their own Facebook page, they have doubled that figure.
While responses to Facebook posts don’t always lead to arrests, it has also resulted in reuniting victims with their stolen property.
The police make sure to include telephone numbers in each post, ensuring that potential tipsters don’t have to reveal their identities on the social network.
This proactive approach is just a supplemental investigatory tool, and by no means is a substitute for good old fashioned police work. That said, with the way the internet is making the world a smaller place, especially social media, it is surprising that more departments across the country haven’t adopted a similar approach to investigating crimes.