Busted selfies: Social media is now a vital tool for law enforcement

Busted selfies: Social media is now a vital tool for law enforcement

Social media is great for finding out the latest celebrity gossip, catching up with long lost friends, and now it’s great for catching criminals as well. With the era-defining trend of selfies in full swing, law enforcement officials are able to catch more criminals.


It is ironic how many criminals are caught due to their own careless mistakes involving social media. Some criminals posted selfies before or after committing their crime. Additionally, thieves have posted photos of themselves with stolen property. In some instances, photos have been posted from a stolen phone, leading the police directly to the perpetrator.


The Racine Police Department in Racine, Wisconsin is keeping up with the trend by looking to acquire a social media scanning program.


This program would give law enforcement officials real-time information regarding possible wanted criminals, as well as victims. The system software would detail a criminal’s location based on the location at the time of the post. It would also have the ability to collect data of previous criminals from all social media, such as Facebook posts, Instagram photos, YouTube videos, and even comments.


Two robbers in masks taking a picture of their reflection holding up a large knife.

Two females were caught for robbing a fast-food restaurant because they posted this selfie on the Internet. (oddee.com)

Police have already solved several crimes, including a robbery at a fast food restaurant in Halmstad, Sweden. Two teenage girls robbed the chain at knifepoint then preserved the memory of their capper with a selfie. Officers were able to track the girls to their grandparent’s apartment where they found the knife and masks. It wasn’t until they confiscated the girls’ phones that police discovered the photo, confirming they were the individuals in the photograph.


A similar incident took place when 21-year-old Justin Bahler posted a selfie of himself to his Facebook account holding a machine-gun pistol. Police officials later recognized the same gun from a robbery caught on a security camera. Bahler was arrested soon after.


Law enforcement is taking notice of this real-time information influencing more departments to use social media monitoring technology to stop crime before it happens.


Do you think this new social media surveillance software is legal or an invasion of privacy? Tell us what you think, or find me on Twitter @jesusgreaser and chat with me about it.

Jesus Garcia

Jesus R. Garcia is a freelance writer and a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio. He reports on political topics and automotive stories for MUI Daily News. Born in Mexico and raised in Texas, Jesus is a firearm enthusiast and collector, as well as a certified Car-Guy. Jesus enjoys music, film, and a good ol’ BBQ. Follow on Twitter @jesusgreaser.

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