Facebook Helps Lead to Arrest of Break-in Suspects

By: Carrie Cline Email
By: Carrie Cline Email

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Facebook crime fighting -- that's what led to the identification and arrest of two men accused of breaking into a home.

What started with an excellent home surveillance system ended when the homeowner's friend and a few hundred of their closest friends' friends helped crack the case.

Tony Patrick is no stranger to home break-ins. That's why he invested in a serious home surveillance system, complete with a network of cameras.

They were all in just the right place, at just the right time, last week when two men pulled onto his property. One of those men broke into Patrick's home.

“He goes straight to the credenza, and I kept some medication here,” Patrick said.

After rummaging through the drawers, the man headed for the bedrooms where Patrick says the man tossed and turned stuff before heading to the kitchen.

“He comes back and checks the refrigerator,” Patrick said. “It’s is disturbing to see someone ransack your home and go through your things."

Patrick got his money shot, though, when the unsuspecting crook posed for his close-up.

“This is the camera that caught him. This is the camera he looked right into,” Patrick said.

After capturing such great images, Patrick's friend posted them on Facebook. Her friends shared them with their friends, and their friends shared them until the pictures landed on the Kyova Crime Alerts Facebook page. It's managed by stay-at-home mom crime fighting enthusiast Danielle Childers.

“In no time, I mean within hours, I received a tip," Childers said. "I did a small Google search, presented my work to the deputy and it was him. Within six hours, they had made an arrest.”

Fred Meinking, 53, of Kenova, W.Va., is the one police believe broke in and and Michael Christian, 51, of Huntington is believed to have driven the car. They were behind bars three days after they allegedly broke into Patrick's home.

“I’d say a lot of people appreciate that, especially me and the police, because it's very time consuming for them," Childers said.

Police say they're very grateful for community help. The Cabell County Sheriff's deputy on the case said all of the hard work was practically done for him, allowing him more time to work on his agency's many other cases.

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