From taunting police on social media to sharing crimes in real-time, people aren’t hiding behind black masks in dark alleys anymore. They’re tweeting, posting and sharing illegal behavior – before, during and after a crime.
When criminals post on social media, it not only provides clues for authorities to make an arrest, it also serves as evidence in the case against them. In addition to bragging and showcasing their crimes, some are taunting police on social media, challenging them to a game of cat and mouse for all the world to see.
Below are five examples of how police officers used social media to solve a crime or make an arrest.
Wanted Man Turns Himself in After Facebook Challenge
A wanted man in Michigan turned himself in and brought local police officers doughnuts after losing a social media challenge he initiated on Facebook, according to Fox News in Detroit.
The man started trolling the Redford Township police department’s Facebook page, making comments and threats, according to the report. The department asked him to turn himself in on several warrants – including one for a probation violation and assault and battery. He sent them a private message back, challenging the department (with these exact words):
“Yeah, I’m not worried about it. If you’re next post gets a thousand shares I’ll turn myself in along with a dozen doughnuts. And that’s a promise. And I’ll pick up every piece of litter around all your public schools let’s see if you can get those shares.”
The department shared his private message and received 1,000 shares within an hour. Several days later, he showed up as promised with a dozen glazed doughnuts and one bagel. According to Fox News, he is serving a minimum of 39 days in jail.
Selfies with Stolen Guns, Drugs, Money on Instagram
A Florida teen was arrested on 142 felony charges in December 2016 after authorities found selfies of the man holding wads of cash, guns and drugs, according to a 2013 article published by New York Daily News.
The photos were shared on his Instagram page and allowed authorities to issue a search warrant, states a 2013 article published by the Huffington Post. Deputies discovered a stolen gun and $250,000 worth of stolen jewelry, electronics and firearms. Authorities say the man was a responsible for being the ringleader in as many as 40 burglaries in Palm Beach County.
Live-Streaming Drunk Driving
A Florida woman was arrested in October 2017 for DUI after a night of partying and live streaming it on the app Periscope.
According to a 2016 article published by NBC News, the woman live streamed drinking at several bars, got behind the wheel and told viewers she was driving home drunk. At one point, she said, “Let’s see if I get a DUI.”
Viewers immediately called 911 and a Lakeland Police Officer logged onto the app and was able to find her. Officers say she failed a sobriety test and refused to take a breath test after being pulled over. The woman has since pled no contest to driving under the influence.
Teen Crime Spree Shared on Snapchat
Two Georgia teens were arrested after posting videos of their entire crime spree on Snapchat, according to WSAV News.
In July 2017, the teens shared video clips of themselves vandalizing a high school, several restaurants and jumping on a police car. The teens targeted a high school in Marietta, smashing holes in the gym’s ceiling, stealing food out of the school’s freezer and taking fire extinguishers from the school.
The Snapchat videos also show them spraying customers on the patio of a local restaurant with the stolen extinguishers. Both were arrested and charged with five felonies and four misdemeanors and were jailed on $60,000 bond, according to the report.
Bank Robbery Selfies
An Ohio couple was arrested in August 2015 on theft and robbery charges after authorities discovered selfies of them holding wads of cash posted on the couple’s joint Facebook account, according to a 2015 article published by CNN.
According to the report, authorities identified at least one suspect after images of the robbery were made public. After receiving the woman’s name from a tip, they were able to locate her Facebook page and find the photos.
To learn more about how law enforcement uses social media, check out our infographic.