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Bloomington Police Department uses social media to identify suspects


Bloomington Police Department Facebook page is loaded on a laptop. Many students have followed the BPD social media accounts to stay updated on crime around Bloomington. Sarah Zygmuntowski

In late December security cameras recorded video of a suspect in a crime, but the Bloomington Police Department was not able to identify the suspect. Then they posted it on Facebook and the comments began rolling in, leading the police to find him.

The Bloomington Police Department has been taking advantage of social media to identify suspects involved in crimes since as early as 2016.

Detective Robert Shrake described social media as a “valued resource” to reach a wide audience, and he said BPD has had a lot of success posting on social media for tips.

“People are more forthcoming when putting in tips online,” he said.

This tactic was used recently to identify a suspect from a theft.

A man broke into a parked car and stole credit cards from the victim’s wallet Dec. 24 at a church on the west side of Bloomington. The suspect then used the cards at multiple locations.

In a Dec. 31 Facebook post, BPD said they believed the suspect to have a tattoo under his left eye. He was seen by security footage leaving a Speedway store in a pickup truck. BPD posted screenshots of security footage and a few details of the case.

The Bloomington Police Department shared security camera images of a suspect involved in a Dec. 24 vehicle break in on its Facebook page.

Shrake investigated the case.

The suspect was identified from tips received from social media, he said. The suspect has not yet been brought into custody.

Some students have followed the department’s social media accounts after recent crimes around Bloomington.

“I know the Bloomington and IUPD social media accounts,” sophomore Mark Roze said. “I’ve watched them before, especially during the shootings last semester.”

BPD’s Facebook page has more than 25,000 followers, but some people still are unaware the page exists.

Freshman Sydney Stokes said she didn’t know BPD had social media accounts. She said she has been worried about crime around Bloomington but didn’t know where to look for more information. Stokes said she was particularly concerned about shootings, thefts and rape cases.

“Next time I’m worried about something or someone I would probably look into it,” said Stokes.

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