Using Facebook to fight crime: Thief caught out

We hear an awful lot of negative things regarding privacy concerns about social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter but we sometimes forget that the latest technology can also have very positive uses. In the last couple of months we’ve posted stories about a thief caught by using Twitter and also a caravan thief spotted on Google’s Street View.

Now we have news of a crime solved using Facebook whereby a thief who stole a TV from a service station in Massachusetts was brought to book by using the popular social networking site. Joan Goodchild over on NetworkWorld tells how the man who stole the TV also paid for his gas with a credit card, which of course had his name on it. The manager of the service station then traced him on Facebook and sent him a friend request which he accepted.

Nicole Telles, the manager, then accessed the thief’s pictures and handed the information to her boss who in turn sent him a message on Facebook requesting the return of the TV pledging he would not contact the police if the TV was indeed returned. However the thief ignored the message and removed Telles from his friends list. The police were then called and given the information along with pictures accessed from the thief’s Facebook profile and 20-year old Tyler Hurst was arrested shortly afterwards.

This is another example of how social networking sites and technology can be put to positive use and another example is explained by Deb Stanley over on The Denver Channel who tells how police used Facebook to track down a burglar in Colorado. What are your thoughts on the use of social networking to catch criminals? We’d like to know and would also like to know if you’ve heard of any other examples so please do send us your comments.