Social Media Helps Police Identify Theft Suspect

BARBOURSVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Police now know who is responsible for stealing nearly $1,000 worth of merchandise from Target stores in Barboursville and Charleston, thanks to social media.

Detectives at the Barbourville Police Department posted pictures from surveillance footage of the suspect on their Facebook page Tuesday. Within hours, more than 17,000 people had viewed the pictures.

Five or six people contacted detectives, saying they recognized the man and wanted to help catch him just hours after the crime occurred.

“It struck a nerve in a lot of people because most people are hard-working people, and they work hard to pay for what they get,” Detective Greg Lucas said. “Here they see this guy just strolling in and taking what he wants and walking out without paying.”

The latest theft was Tuesday. The man was seen in surveillance footage with a shopping cart full of merchandise. Detectives say he was after high-price items, specifically stereo systems.

As of Wednesday evening, the man had not yet been arrested, but warrants were signed for his arrest.

Lucas said Facebook is becoming a powerful tool, especially in a small town where just about everyone knows each other.

“Information is our greatest ally and asset against fighting crime,” Lucas said. “Facebook just so happens to be one of the greatest databases that we can get our hands on.”

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