Social Networking Sites Can Help Fight Crimes In Oklahoma

Thursday, November 17th 2011, 4:50 pm
By: News 9

Chris McKinnon, News 9

MOORE, OK – Bryan Kerr owns Moore Liquor. A thief entered his store and stole a bottle of alcohol and Thursday he said he owes his followers on Facebook a thank you after they helped identify the shoplifter caught on his security camera.

"It's never been this easy," explained Kerr. "You've got your cameras of course and you can see the guy but if you don't know him and the police don't know him, what do you have, really?"

Kerr said a man entered his store, hung around for about 15 minutes then walked out after swiping a bottle of booze worth around $8.00 but it's what Kerr did afterwards that actually helped quickly solve the crime.

"I just downloaded the video to my home computer, did a little editing on it and uploaded it to Facebook and YouTube and linked it together and sure enough within hours I had the name," said Kerr.

Police said Facebook being used as a crime-fighting tool has grown exponentially in the past year because it's easier to upload security video onto a user's pages.

"We have a lot of crimes that are solved from just Facebook alone," explained Sgt. Jeremy Lewis with the Moore Police Department. "We can find information about them that we couldn't find just a few years ago."

As social networking sites become more popular, police can find out more information about suspected criminals, according to Lewis.

"It has increased tremendously, even over the past year," said Lewis.

But he warns that Facebook can be a double-edged sword when investigating crimes because of the number of tips that turn out to be dead ends.

"Sometimes it does delay an investigation because we do have to look into all those things," explained Lewis.

Another issue police sometimes run into with social networking sites is the risk of a suspect finding out before police want them to, according to Lewis, but he said, it's a tool police use more often and they continue to use it as long as it helps them solve crimes. He added that Facebook can be used in investigations of petty theft all the way up to murder.