Sheriff's office using Facebook to catch criminals - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Sheriff's office using Facebook to catch criminals

Michael Reed Michael Reed
Steven Strickland Steven Strickland

RUSSELL COUNTY, AL - You may sign onto Facebook to talk with your friends, but some local law enforcement agencies are using the social media site to catch criminals.

Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor says Facebook helped their department to catch suspected copper thieves.

The two suspects had been caught on a game camera allegedly stealing copper from a local family's property.

Michael Reed, had already turned himself in, but Taylor says Reed would not give the name of the other suspect to deputies.  So, a couple of weeks ago, Sheriff's deputies posted that video on their Facebook page. 

Taylor says they received an anonymous call from someone saying they knew who the identity of the second suspect.  Then, deputies got another surprise.

"He called us and said ‘Hey.  The guy that's on y'all's Facebook page is me.  And, I'll turn myself in,'" said Taylor.

Steven Strickland did just that.  Deputies were able to arrest him on Saturday.  It was the first time they had used the social media site to look for a suspect.

"Modern technology and social media are just a new way of how to police," said Taylor.

Benita Catrett and her husband are grateful the Sheriff's Office was trying every way possible to catch the copper thieves who haunted their yard.

"It really helps in a lot of ways.  I mean people can abuse [Facebook] or people can use it to benefit, and in my case, it really paid off," said Catrett.

Catrett says the men allegedly stole copper from her family's property 5 times forcing them to resort to put up cameras in their woods and get a new pit bull guard dog.

"I'm not going to be in fear.  My grandkids aren't going to be in fear to come out here and wonder if some man's going to walk up out of the trees."

After such a success, Sheriff Taylor says the posts will keep coming.

"[We will be] putting more pictures out there that we can't identify.  Maybe they hadn't been arrested here before or maybe it's just somebody that we can't pick out right off," said Taylor.

Reed and Strickland are facing felony charges of Theft of Property 1st.  Reed was able to bond out of jail while Strickland is still being held in Russell County.

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