DENVER (CBS4) – Thieves were busted in Denver and the police are giving credit to Facebook. It’s the latest example of social media protecting the public.

Facebook has turned into a quick and easy form of communication for the police and the public. The crime that police stopped by using Facebook involved burglars spotting pricey items, such as a GPS or cellphones that people failed to hide inside their car.

There was a smash-and-grab crime spree that plagued a Denver neighborhood in January — that is until the Denver Police Department used Facebook to solicit tips, arrest suspects, and more.

“The subsequent investigation led to the closure of several crimes, in not only District 3, but other surrounding districts and other communities outside of Denver,” Cmdr. Joe Montoya said.

“What I think is fascinating about this incident is, is so much came in at one time, so they knew it was really good information,” Lt. Matt Murray said.

Murray said every week an average of 122,000 people, mostly from Denver, have been looking at the DPD’s Facebook page. Stephanie Berardi is one of them.

“I like to know what’s going on in my community and Facebook is a great way to be notified immediately,” Berardi said.

The DPD’s Facebook page also features crime fighting tips.

“Leaving your car running while it’s warming up, and people are looking to steal it, and quite frankly it’s weird that that didn’t even occur to me,” Berardi said.

Denver police love the fact their Facebook page is reaching more people online compared to a community meeting.

“So we’ll post things like, ‘How do we investigate a hit-and-run accident?’ Or we’re getting ready to do a series of 1 ½ minute videos on marijuana. ‘What does the law change mean?’ ” Murray said.

But when it comes to stopping a growing crime such as thieves stealing pricey electronics from cars, Facebook has become priceless.

“You stop a team like this, you can stop hundreds and hundreds of crimes and prevent more from occurring,” Murray said.


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