Just about everybody uses social media, so why not the bad guys, too? The problem for some of the perps, however, is that they are just not that smart about how they do it. In the meantime, law enforcement professionals have gotten up to speed on these new technologies, and are using them to catch crooks with increasing regularity. Here are eight great examples, all in one entertaining article. I strongly recommend checking the original story through the link, since some of the images there are priceless!
Police busted a Bronx, N.Y. gang Dec. 5 after alleged gang members wrote openly about illegal activity on Facebook and Instagram. Members of the gang WTG attempted to disguise their language, using terms like “glocc,” “swammy” and “hammer” for firearms. But police quickly cracked the code. The 10 suspects, all between the ages of 17 and 27, now face six counts of conspiracy to commit murder, assault, weapons possession and sales, and narcotics possession, reported NYPD.
The Boys in Blue are All Over It
WTG isn’t the first, and most likely won’t be the last, to be outed after over-sharing on Facebook. Police departments across the country have amped up their digital presences over the past few years. And some, like the New York Police Department, have even created special social media units with the sole purpose of tracking down criminal activity through the Internet.
1. Running from the Cops LOL
Chris Crego of Lockport, N.Y. was arrested for assault in 2009 after a bar fight. When he didn’t show up for sentencing, police issued a warrant for his arrest — turns out, though, he’d already fled the state. It didn’t matter. A quick Google search was all it took. Lockport police easily tracked down both Crego’s Facebook and MySpace accounts, where Crego had updated his current location to Terre Haute, Ind., his place of employment and — here’s the kicker — even his work hours. He had also posted his wanted picture from a newspaper back in Lockport.
2. The Classic “Siphon Gas from a Cop Car and Share It on Facebook” Maneuver
Twenty-year-old Michael Baker, from Jenkins, Ky., was jailed after he posted a photo of himself on Facebook siphoning gas from a local police vehicle. The photo shows Baker flipping the bird while swiping fuel from a Jenkins Police Department squad car. The photo circulated through the town of 2,000, and before long, Baker was charged with theft for unlawful tanking and spent the night in the slammer. The incident didn’t seem to embarrass him or deter his Facebook habit. After he was released, he posted this on his page: “yea lol i went too [sic] jail over Facebook.”
Two men were arrested in April 2012 for planting deadly, medieval-like booby traps along a popular hiking trail near Provo, Utah. Benjamin Rutkowski, 19, and Kai Christensen, 21, were tipped off to police after they chatted to each other about the traps through — what else? — Facebook. The men claimed they had set up the traps to kill animals, not people, but the police weren’t buying it. One of the traps in particular was designed to swing a grapefruit-sized, armed with wooden spikes, at whoever set it off.
4. Always Log Out
A woman in Martinsburg, W. Va. came home to discover two diamond rings missing. She also noticed that someone had logged into Facebook on her computer — and had forgotten to log out. The burglar, 19-year-old Jonathan Parker, was easily tracked down and the stolen jewelry was returned.
5. Glamour Mug Shot
Nineteen-year-old Rodney Knight Jr., of Washington, D.C., broke into Washington Post reporter Marc Fisher’s home in January 2011. After nabbing a coat, petty cash and a laptop, Knight logged into Fisher’s son’s Facebook account and posted a photo of himself with the soon-to-be-stolen goods. Knight’s freebie mug shot led to his arrest a few days later. He pleaded guilty to both burglary and carrying a pistol without a license. D.C. police officer Kyle Roe dubbed Knight the “most stupid criminal” he had ever encountered, the Register reports.
I remember this story very well – it happened in FrontPoint’s back yard. In fact, I even posted about it on the FrontPoint blog!
6. Beach Blues
Maxi Sopo was just excited about his vacation to Cancun. Granted, it was more of an “escape from the law” than a vacation — the 26-year-old had just defrauded a handful of Seattle banks out of $200,000, after all. But it didn’t mean he shouldn’t document his time on the beach for all his friends back home to see, right? In the midst of all the excitement, Sopo made the rookie mistake of adding a former Justice Department Official to his list of friends on Facebook. The result? Less beach bars, more iron bars. Sopo’s constant updates made it easy for police to find him. He pleaded guilty to four counts of bank fraud and was sentenced to 33 months in prison.
7. Be Careful Who You “Like”
A registered sex offender was arrested in Bluefield, Va. earlier this year after an unfortunate “liking” incident gave away his location. Dyllan Naecher fled to Virginia after he became wanted in the state of Maryland. In an attempt to keep a close eye on the local police force, Naecher’s girlfriend, 22-year-old Samantha Dillow, “liked” the Tazewell Police Department’s Facebook page. The “like” gave police direct access to her account, which conveniently included a picture of Naecher. After a bit more digging, Tazewell officers found the pair’s address and arrested both the next day.
8. Catch Me If You Can
Convicted thief James Tindell, of Oregon, was tired of the court-ordered drug treatment he had accepted to avoid prison. So naturally, he packed up his bags and left the state — but not without a little virtual taunting. Tindell, apparently eager to boast about his escape from Oregon, updated his Facebook profile almost constantly as he drove across the country. He directed many of the sneery posts toward his probation officer — “Fresh out of another state,” he wrote in one. “Catch me if you can.” In another, he avoided all discretion entirely: “I’m in Alabama.”
As luck would have it, Tindell was pulled over for speeding in Daphne, Ala. soon after. The officer ran his license and immediately found the warrant that had been issued for his arrest. Tindell was ordered to reimburse the state $2,600 for his flight back to Oregon and was sent to prison for 30 months, PC World reported.
Wow – eight great stories about scofflaws who really could not have been much dumber. And thanks to the increased to the increased mastery of social media by police all across the US, we can look forward to many more stories like this!
FrontPoint is happy to be your information source for all things related to wireless home security and home automation. We specialize in systems that are safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. As the leader in wireless home security and the #1 rated alarm company in the US, we takes residential intrusion very seriously: so if you are looking for a company you can trust to provide the best peace of mind for your home, think FrontPoint. We’ll be keeping our eye on the bad guys, and doing our best to keep them out of your neighborhood.