On Monday morning at around 6:30 a.m., Coty Prentice found her car window smashed and her purse stolen while it sat in the parking lot of her work, the Dunkin Donuts on Rt. 85. Prentice, obviously upset, called the Waterford Police Department to file a report, although was skeptical it would do much good.
“Not at all,” Prentice said, when asked if she thought the police would find the people who burglarized her car. “I thought they were long gone.”
But just a few hours later, two suspects were in custody for burglarizing Prentice’s car, and the couple was found with several other stolen items as well. How were the two caught so quickly?
“It is just one more avenue to solve crimes,” Waterford Police Lt. Brett Mahoney said, who runs the Waterford Police Department’s Facebook page. “We are learning to use it more and more.”
The burglary of Prentice's car was the second case in the past week that was solved partly by the Waterford Police Department’s Facebook page. The department posts photos of suspects and other information on the page, in the hope people recognize the suspects or come forward with other useful information, Mahoney said.
“Every police department should (have a Facebook page),” Prentice said. “I cannot believe how fast it got out there.”
How Facebook Helped Solve Two Crimes
On Friday, somebody smashed into Tiffany Fogg-Jones’ car on Soljer Drive, which was parked in front of her house, and took off. The accident caused thousands of dollars of damage to Fogg-Jones’ car, and although she filed a report with the Waterford Police Department, she was skeptical they’d ever find the person who did it.
However, the department put a picture of the damage to Fogg-Jones’ car on its Facebook page, and asked if anybody knew anything about the accident. The post was shared 28 times, and fearing prosecution, the person who did it came forward after seeing it all over Facebook.
“If it wasn’t for Facebook, unfortunately, he wouldn’t have come forward,” Fogg-Jones said. “It is amazing how social networking works. You don’t think it works, but less than 24 hours after it was posted the guy came forward.”
On Monday, Prentice went to work at 3:15 a.m. to her job at Dunkin’ Donuts on Rt. 85. At 6:30 a.m., she discovered her car window had been broken and her purse stolen. She called the Waterford Police Department to file a report and cancelled all of her credit cards, where she found out the Waterford Walmart denied a couple trying to use her card at around 4:30 that morning.
A Waterford Police officer went to the Walmart and found pictures of the couple that tried to use Prentice’s card on Walmart’s security cameras. The department then posted pictures of the couple and their car on its Facebook page and asked the public if they recognized them.
The post was shared 50 times, and one person who saw the post on Facebook recognized the couple and their car at a hotel in Waterford. A Waterford Police Officer went to the hotel and found them with Prentice’s purse, along with a plethora of other stolen items.
On Tuesday, the couple, 48-year-old Robert Wall and 35-year-old Shannon Flood, were charged with second-degree criminal mischief, sixth-degree larceny, third-degree burglary and 13 counts of illegal use of a credit card. The two are both being held on $150,000 bond, and Prentice feels safer with them off of the streets.
“I am happy that they were arrested,” Prentice said. “And hopefully all of those other people they stole from can get their stuff back."
Mahoney said the last two arrests might mean the Waterford Police Department will use its Facebook page more than ever. He said the department was first only going to use it for big cases, but now is more inclined to use it for the hit-and-runs and larcenies the department confronts everyday.
To like the Waterford Police Department's Facebook page, click here.