Local Business Uses Social Media to Identify Shoplifters - KOAM TV 7

Local Business Uses Social Media to Identify Shoplifters


Everybody is on Facebook these days. That's why a Webb City business owner utilized the social media platform to identify someone they believe shoplifted from their store.

Stop. It’s the simple message the owners of Henkle's Hardware want to deliver. They say security footage shows a woman shoplifting from their store several times. To get that message across, they then posted her picture on their Facebook page.

“We’re going to push back,” says owner John Henkle.

She was taking Yeti Bottles. The Henkles say she came in multiple times and got away with about $500 worth of products. That’s when they turned to the community to help identify the person.

“We never said anything about if the girls had stolen anything or not. We asked who they were, we made a comment they liked Yeti and kind of the court of public opinion did everything else,” he says of the post.

Within five minutes they had names.

Police say they've also used social media to identify suspects that they were unable to identify internally.

“Social media in that avenue is what we call a force multiplier, it’s an excellent tool to communicate with the public and gather the resources that the general public has to the advantage of the criminal justice system,” says Captain Bob Higginbotham with the Joplin Police Department.

Authorities say that using social media to help identify somebody involved in a crime can have both positive and negative effects. They say that getting law enforcement involved in the best way to stop repeat offenders.

“It poses some risk to the integrity of the investigation when they prematurely put that information out. Sometimes it drives people into hiding so it just makes it more difficult for us to find them,” says Higginbotham.

The Webb City Police Department is working on this case.

For the Henkles, fighting back is necessary to keep their business going.

“It’s straight off the bottom line, it’s straight out of my pocket. And if cash flow is tight it’s the difference on if I’m going to take a paycheck home,” Henkle says.

Workers at Sutherlands were able to stop the same women from taking Yeti bottles from their store today after seeing Henkle's Facebook post.

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