People are now turning to Social Media when they become victims of a crime

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This tactic of sharing video and pictures related to the crime has worked well for law enforcement for years. (KFSN)

A rare Gibson SG guitar is priceless to Karyn Locke's family. So when it was stolen from her home recently, she pulled out all the stops to make sure the instrument was recovered.

"After we filed a police report I jumped right on the computer and it was very easy to think of that as the next step to get our guitar back."

Locke posted a photo of the stolen guitar and a plea for friends to spread the word, hoping someone would see it.

"It's almost like that commercial where they tell two friends and they tell two friends."

The request for help was 'shared' 2,000 times in two days.

"The people that you know, who are friends with you on Facebook, or followers of you on Twitter, they're more likely to share your own information. So you have an audience that cares about you and they want to see you get help. They want to see you get justice," said Sgt. Eric Gripp, Law Enforcement Social Media Consultant.

Gripp said this tactic of sharing video and pictures related to the crime has worked well for law enforcement for years. Now, 'regular' citizens are willing to take matters into their own hands.

"They're not averse to taking a picture of something themselves, taking surveillance footage, a private camera they might have, putting it online themselves and just saying as a catch-all to their neighbors, 'hey, this person broke into my car does anyone recognize them?'"

Lauri Stevens, a social media strategist for law enforcement, said it's human nature to help.

"People want to see bad guys go to jail. They want safe communities. With social media, now it's just so much easier to do that. We can sit with our phone on the couch and actually participate."

Lauri compares this new age crime stoppers to an online neighborhood watch. She said social media posted by the average person is especially helpful in missing person's cases or theft.

But Sergeant Gripp cautions people to be careful. He said you don't want to share too much about your case online and when sharing surveillance, "You can't just think 'cause oh, this is just somebody who stole a package off my property, they might not be dangerous."

When soliciting social media help for a crime, experts say you need to keep authorities as involved as possible. Especially if someone contacts you saying they have your property.

In Locke's case, someone on Facebook said they had the missing guitar.

"I contacted the police to let them know that somebody did have my guitar and asked the next steps that I needed to take, so I would remain safe."

Police arranged a meeting to return the guitar. Locke said she knows it's all due to her online crime stopping crew.

Sites like Crime-Seen allow registered members to receive real time alerts when a report is filed in their area. And app's such as Nixie and Nextdoor are designed to raise awareness of local cases where users often post alerts or requests for tips about crimes.

Related Topics:
crimetheftsocial media
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