Police in Toms River township, New Jersey, scored a Facebook crime-solving “hat trick” this week, using the site to identify four individuals in connection with three separate crimes.
By posting surveillance photos on the police department’s Facebook page, officials said they received more than a dozen tips about a bank robbery, a man that allegedly groped and kissed a woman at a mall, and a robbery at a Target store where a little girl had her wallet stolen.
Ralph Stocco, a spokesman for the Toms River Police Department, told NJ.com that social media has become an integral part of catching crooks in their community.
“Social media has taken the place of wanted posters,” he said. “With the advent of new media such as Facebook…we have instant access to the citizens. They have become partners in law enforcement and the making of news instead of just being spectators.”
Though it might feel a little like Big Brother to have cops capturing and releasing surveillance footage to the public, you better believe that this kind of law enforcement practice isn’t going anywhere. If it works as well as it does, why get rid of it?
“Much like the advent of fingerprinting, DNA, and computers in police cars, I believe in years to come criminal justice scholars will include social media as one of the great advancements in law enforcement,” Stocco said.