Crime Stoppers is incredibly successful in using social media to identify suspects and solve crimes. The tools, strategies, and effort used to track down and capture criminals have evolved substantially when compared to past endeavors.
The use of police sketches has been instrumental in identifying suspects in previous years; however, surveillance photographs and video makes it significantly easier to identify suspects.
According to Crime Stoppers, combining social media with surveillance footage is incredibly even more effective.
Crime Stoppers’ role is fairly simple. Their main purpose is to identify suspects that have committed felony crimes.
Years ago, Crime Stoppers used television commercials and newspaper ads to try to find criminals.
Now, social media networks and platforms like Twitter and Facebook play a critical role in the success of Crime Stoppers in tracking suspects or actual perpetrators of crime.
For instance, Crime Stoppers of Michiana, Indiana, began using social media to help solve crimes and round up fugitives about two years ago, according to a WNDU article.
Here’s what Lieutenant Cindy Kilgore of the Michiana Crime Stoppers said to WNDU concerning social media’s role in helping their organization.
“So just imagine posting a photo, say, for the 3,000 that are on our Facebook page and who then share that photo on their Facebook page, and how drastically, exponentially that photo is getting seen by more and more people. It’s really been incredible.”
Lt. Kilgore said the number of arrests has dramatically increased and investigators are not wasting as much time looking for suspects.
Crime Stopper Kilgore explains the effectiveness of social media in solving crimes in their area.
“One thing we have really noticed is how it’s happening quicker. It was further down the line before. We got tips and then the investigators had to go find that person and put the whole case together. But now sometimes we’re getting the tip immediately after we post surveillance photos of after I post information on an unsolved crime, and it just prompts a quicker reaction.”
However, Kilgore adds that some of the reactions have been amusing at times.
“People love looking at the surveillance photos and figuring out, ‘Is that so and so– I think it is,’ and then sharing it to somebody else, ‘Don’t you think that’s so and so?’ There have been times where I posted surveillance photos and I had somebody write in the comments on our Facebook page, ‘That’s my no good father.’ Now we don’t want them to do that because we do want them to remain anonymous.”
Sometimes it is difficult to remain anonymous. A particular case involving a fugitive with a face covered with tattoos is one example.
Nonetheless, Lt. Kilgore says that that person more than likely did more to help increase interest in Crime Stoppers’ social media efforts, perhaps more than anyone else did.
Kilgore offers more on how social media helped Crime Stoppers in that specific case of a suspect covered with tattoos.
“It was unbelievable the traction that got on social media which, the point in doing that wasn’t to create a spectacle about him but whatever we can do to get the conversation going on social media and getting people sharing those photos. It’s not only getting the word out for our site on that particular person, but drawing more people to just keep an eye out on our site for when we’re posting other things, so it’s just been a huge boon.”
Kilgore said she expects to expand Crime Stoppers’ reach by soon using Instagram and other social media platforms.
[Featured image via IACP Center for Social Media]