A teenager who was robbed at gunpoint for his iPhone by someone he met on Snapchat used his social media sleuthing skills to track down the criminal, and assist police in bringing him to justice. Although this story has a positive ending, it should be a lesson to all of us: People we meet online aren’t always who they say they are, and it’s essential to be vigilant and stay safe.
The unnamed teen, from Coral Springs, Florida, had been chatting with another teenager, later identified as Andrew Lobaton, over Snapchat and had invited him to his house in the early hours of the morning. However, when Lobaton arrived at the teen’s house, he threatened him with a gun and stole his Apple iPhone.
At this point, many would have reported the crime, put the whole thing down to experience, and perhaps become more careful in the future. This teen, however, began collecting information that could lead to identifying the thief’s real identity. At the time, our sleuth only knew him by his Snapchat username, but had also seen his Instagram account, which was under a different name. Amazingly, using his own network of friends, he found out the robber’s real name, and then through an internet search, arrived at a full name and a mugshot, according to the Sun Sentinel’s report quoting local police.
It didn’t stop there. He went straight to the police, where messages to Lobaton’s Instagram account asking for the phone to be returned were photographed as evidence. The police later arrested Lobaton and recovered the stolen iPhone; but rather than giving it back in its rightful owner, it’s currently being held as evidence. Brad McKeone, police captain at Coral Springs, said that due to the teen’s fast research carried out through social media, “He brought a quick resolution to this case, and an armed robbery suspect was taken off the streets very quickly.”
All this counts as a lesson to everyone. First, don’t invite strangers to your house without initially meeting in a public place during the daytime. Second, at least some personal information about everyone is likely available online, which a simple Google search should reveal. This applies to everything from dating apps like Tinder, to buying something through Facebook Marketplace. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, even if your sleuthing skills rival this impressive teen’s.