As reported by the Colombian-based El Tiempo (Spanish publication), two armed men visited an Internet cafe in an area north of Cali, Colombia and started using two computers. After spending some time browsing the Web, both men went up to the cashier to pay for their usage time and assaulted the man before demanding all the money in the register. Both men escaped with all the money on a stolen motorcycle, but the Internet cafe administrator noticed that one man neglected to log out of his Facebook account prior to making the escape. When Colombian investigators arrived at the cafe, they used the information on his Facebook account to figure out his home address and subsequently made an arrest.
This isn’t the first time that a person committing a robbery has neglected to log out of Facebook before leaving their victim’s home or business. During August 2009, a teenager named Jonathan Parker broke into a Martinsburg, West Virginia home and stole two diamond rings from the homeowner.
Prior to making his escape, he sat down at the homeowner’s computer and checked up on his Facebook account. When he left the home, Parker’s Facebook account was still open in the laptop’s Web browser. Police quickly arrested Parker after reading information included on the Facebook page and charged him with one count of felony daytime burglary.
Photos uploaded to Facebook have also been the downfall of several criminals recently. During April 2012, a 20-year-old man named Michael Baker in Letcher County, Kentucky had his girlfriend take a photo of him while he siphoned gasoline out of a police cruiser and made an obscene gesture towards the camera. After Baker uploaded the picture to his Facebook page, it was quickly shared among the community and appeared before the eyes of the local police. The local authorities quickly arrested Baker for the theft and Baker got the privilege of spending a night in jail for the theft. After this incident, the local police are considering installing locking gas caps on all their cruisers.
In a similar story during March 2012, a twenty-one-year-old man named Steven Mulhall was arrested on violation of probation charges after stealing Broward Circuit Judge Michael Orlando’s nameplate off an office door.
Police discovered the theft after Mulhall posed with the nameplate for a picture and the picture was uploaded to Facebook by his girlfriend. While the cost of the nameplate was only $40, Mulhall now faces felony charges since he violated his parole based off his prior multiple convictions for petty theft.
Sometimes simply accepting a Facebook friend’s request can lead to jail time for a known thief. During December 2010, a Massachusetts man stopped at a gas station to fill up his car and managed to slip out of the station with a 27-inch flat screen television that he pried off the wall. The manager of the gas station used his photo from surveillance video and his name from the credit card receipts to track down the man’s Facebook profile. After the manager sent him a friend’s request and he accepted, the manager used all the photos on the thief’s account to verify his identity. This information was eventually turned over to the local police and an arrest shortly followed.