Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

April 13, 2013

Facebook's help

Posted photograph helps police recover stolen signs

The Independent

ASHLAND — It did not take great investigative work for the Mason County Sheriff’s Department to recover a number of stolen signs and to cite a 19-year-old in connection with the crimes. All that was required was for police to view a photo posted on Facebook.

Mason County Sheriff Patrick Boggs told The Ledger-Independent in Maysville his office found 16 signs on Sunday, and cited Zakery Mitchell of Lewisburg on a charge of receiving stolen property.

“He posted a picture of himself, with some other people, but you can see all the stolen signs in the background,” said Boggs. “Social media makes our jobs a little easier.”

Boggs said a county official had gotten a tip about the photo and passed it along. He said the items recovered included nine county road signs, two city signs and five advisory signs. Boggs said two of the signs read “Mitchell Alley.”

The recovery will save taxpayer money since it means new ones won’t have to be purchased. Boggs said smaller road signs cost about $25, but larger ones can cost up to $200.

The missing signs are more than just a nuisance. They pose a danger to drivers and their passengers.

“If you take something like a stop sign at an intersection and someone goes through it without stopping, it can be very dangerous,” Boggs said. Missing stop signs have cause more than a few serious accidents, including some fatalities.

This is not the first time social media has helped solve crimes. A few years ago, juveniles in southeastern Kentucky posted a video of them robbing a convenience store. Their egos caused them to broadcast their crimes to anyone with Internet access. How stupid can one get?

The lesson from Maysville is if you are going to steal something, don’t post the stolen items on the Internet, although police officers appreciate any help they can get in solving crimes.