How Cops in South Jersey Have Used Social Media to Nab Dozens of Crooks
When the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office needs help spotting a bad guy, they head straight to their social media accounts.
They tweet or post surveillance footage and it "goes wild," according to Prosecutor Joe Coronato. Within a couple hours, in some cases, they know the name of the suspects and where they live.
"Our society has moved to technology and using smartphones, and we're adapting to that," Coronato said.
The office is among countless law enforcement departments throughout New Jersey using social media as the primary source for tips from the public.
Residents can also get social media notifications from the prosecutor's office, and share information through the office's mobile app, MyPD. The app also provides a sex offender search.
The State Police can thank social media for more than two dozen arrests related to crimes such as burglary and bank fraud.
"Typically when we get a lot of shares and likes on a post, we identify the person that we're trying to catch," Sgt. Jeff Flynn said.
When seeking the public's help through social media, the department will ask for "likes" and "shares" in order to get the post in front of as many eyes as possible.
"Sitting behind a computer, we can put out photos, and we can reach hundreds of thousands of people within minutes," Flynn said.
In early July, State Police posted video surveillance of an attempted burglary in the Brotmanville section of Pittsgrove Township. Someone who saw the shared post recognized one of the suspects and now two men have been charged.
And a post on Monday noted social media tips identified surveillance photos as 19-year-old Pennsylvania resident Christopher Bela Miller, who's allegedly behind commercial burglaries last month in Frankford and Branchville.
Now police are asking the public to "turn up the heat" and locate Miller.