Social media post leads to suspect
Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 06:00 am
It all started with a Facebook post.
When Cochrane man Stu Gale, 51, had his laptop stolen last Tuesday he didn’t think much of it – until a day later when a notification popped up on one of his other work computers saying someone was using the stolen laptop.
“Jazz Dawn” – who RCMP later confirmed is not a real person – logged onto the Facebook account, where Gale was able to watch every move through a remote access system.
“I went through their profile and got all of their information and contacts, I started a couple of conversations,” Gale said with a laugh.
“I told them I was going to go to the RCMP and make you famous.”
After the fake Facebook account was shared publicly, Gale said he has received tips from all over Southern Alberta from people saying they have identified potential suspects involved in other crimes through the friends list of the now-deleted account.
“It wasn’t just some crackhead rummaging through my truck – I think it is something bigger,” Gale commented.
“The amount of information is not just a coincidence.”
One of the Cochranites who had a vehicle stolen during the four-vehicle theft spree last week, said Gale’s social media post has helped with tips of sightings of his vehicle.
“I’ve had lots of leads – my vehicle showed up in Strathmore at another crime the same day it was stolen,” said the Cochrane resident, who wanted to remain anonymous for safety reasons.
“This is not the Cochrane it used to be … but what has been interesting is the power of social media, all it took was one (suspect) login and from the information from that, they have been able to connect an incredible number of dots.”
While the fake Facebook profile did not have a real name, the RCMP said a suspect has been identified from the information provided.
“RCMP strongly believe that we have the right suspect (but) there is a lot of work that needs to be done before we can lay charges,” said Cpl. Troy Savinkoff.
While the social medias post might have led to the suspect’s idenity, Savinkoff said such methods come with risks.
“When you get to public shaming, I urge caution … As a person that gets stuff stolen, I understand the want to publicly shame someone and that is the caution – give us all the info, and we will follow up and once we have the evidence.”
The warning comes after the social media post may have wrongly identified a suspect in the theft. RCMP could not release the name of the current suspect as the case is still under investigation but did indicate that one of the names being shared on social media is not the suspect under investigation.
Gale said he is not expecting to get his stolen laptop back anytime soon but is glad he was able to have some “fun” with the whole incident, while also being helpful.