Social media speeding up shoplifting investigations - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Social media speeding up shoplifting investigations

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BARBOURSVILLE, Wv. - From a detective's point of view, Facebook is a database.

In less than an hour after posting video and photos of a man in the act of stealing a $500 box of tools from Lowe's, Barboursville Police had him pegged.

"Within 40 minutes of doing that, we had a call from a person who had identified the suspect. Then several calls after that." says Detective Greg Lucas, who has been running the department's Facebook page since it was started a month ago. "Something that would have taken days or weeks to do is now taking minutes or hours to do."

Detective Lucas has been looking into two other shoplifting reports, and posting about them.

"We've probably had 30,000 views of those three posts right there," says Lucas.

"People post fights. People post all kinds of crazy stuff all the time," says Facebooker, Erika Staples of Huntington, who likes social media because it sparks conversations. "Social media is slowly but surely taking over the news, and I give it a couple more years before that will be the news."

Ms. Staples is not far off.

In just a month of facebooking for tips, Barboursville Police say they've gotten an overwhelmingly positive response, and it has brought them closer to the people.

"They get to be involved in not just the reporting of the crime, but they get to be involved in the solving of the crime," says Lucas. "I think there's a lot of gratification for the public in that."