Social Media

Pinterest is the new milk carton, helps local police increase arrests by 57 percent

Need help locating a missing person or the jerk who snatched your purse last night by the bus station? Ranting off to Facebook isn’t going to do anything, so why not upload a sketch of the criminal in question onto Pinterest? The social network, known for its popularity with female shoppers, fiancés, and DIY-ers, was recently adopted by a local crime reporter in Pennsylvania which led up to significant increase in arrests.

The idea is pretty simple and logical. The “Wanted by Police” gallery, by The Mercury newspaper in Pottstown, features mugshots of wanted crooks for various offenses, from DUIs to burglary. Each mugshot contains a name, age, crime, contact information, and occasionally, a reward amount. In addition to repinning the photos and spreading the word to their followers, users can also comment on the post with updated information, including whether or not the crook has been caught, or tips on where the criminals were last seen.

“We’ve actually seen a 57 percent increase in our warrant services, and we actually got more people based on our tips and our calls,” Richard Drumheller, Captain at the Pottstown Police Department, told NPR. “For us it’s like, ‘Yes,’ because it’s very enjoyable in police work when the public helps you.”

While the trend is definitely likely to catch on, it’s hard to estimate whether the results will be as successful in other cities. According the public records, Pottstown has a population of about 22,510. The likelihood of catching criminals in smaller towns via Pinterest seems, for the lack of better word, easier than in metropolitan areas like Houston, Chicago, or Los Angeles whose populations exceed millions.

That’s not to say local police departments shouldn’t adopt social media as a tool for finding wanted crooks, but it’s a nice way to get the community engaged with helping law enforcers do their jobs. The presence on the Web also increases the likelihood of people actually seeing the wanted ads, rather than missing it on televised nightly news. Either way, it’s a nice break to go from seeing fancy nail art and Christmas outfits to seeking justice for a local community.

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