Detailed recently on the ABC News wire, 27-year-old James Tindell plead guilty to a robbery charge in an Oregon courtroom during 2010 and agreed to seek drug treatment as well as comply with other conditions in order to avoid spending time in prison. Up to March 2012, he was meeting the conditions of his probation and seemed to be in good standing with the court. However, Tindall started posting negative rants about Judge Eric J. Bloch on his Facebook page. This is the same judge that offered Tindell probation rather than prison time during the 2010 trial. Taking his defiance a step further, Tindell taunted his probation officer on Facebook with messages like “Fresh out of another state,” and “Catch me if you can.” Tindell even went so far as to post “I’m in Alabama,” on his public Facebook page.
Tindell’s probation officer, Todd Roberts, had been constantly monitoring Tindell’s Facebook posts and started looking for more clues on the social network. Roberts discovered a picture of a sonogram of Tindell’s unborn son posted to his Facebook page and found the name of the Alabama hospital on the sonogram photo. This allowed Roberts to narrow the search to a smaller portion of Alabama and inform local police of Tindell’s approximate location.
With the assistance of deputy district attorney Michael Schmidt, Roberts got prosecutors to issue a nationwide arrest warrant for Tindall. Soon after the warrant was issued, Tindell was stopped for speeding in Daphne, Alabama during early June 2012. The officer ran his license, discovered the warrant and subsequently arrested Tindell.
After a short time, Tindell found himself back in front of Judge Bloch in the same Multnomah County circuit court. At the new hearing, Bloch stated “You turned in some good periods of performance. And then, for whatever reason, you decided that you had had enough, and you just took off, and you never looked back. Sir, you could have stayed here and done treatment. You decided to run away. So how could you now be asking for me to give you another chance to avoid prison?” Despite Tindell’s pleas for a lenient sentence, he was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison in addition to paying the state of Oregon $2,600 for the cost of his transport back from Alabama.
However, this isn’t the first time that a Facebook post or photo has lead to the arrest of a criminal. During April 2012, 21-year-old Charles Holden broke into a home where he used to be a resident and sold a stolen plasma television as well as a PlayStation to friends. Holden’s friends were under the impression that he still lived there. After the resident returned to the home and called the police, he checked Holden’s Facebook page to discover a picture of Holden counting money while his television was being carried away.
During April 2011, an Atlanta thief broke into a car to steal a purse and took a picture of himself with the victim’s smartphone. Unbeknownst to him, the settings on her phone automatically uploaded the picture to her Facebook page and police officers immediately had a a photo to publicize on news outlets in order to locate him.