Facebook friends helping Conroe police catch crooks

Conroe Police Department began using Facebook in May 2011 to not only highlight accomplishments of some of its officers and civilian staff, it also began posting community alerts about ongoing investigations and crime trends.

July 26, 2011 4:11:07 PM PDT
Facebook is doing more than keeping people connected. In Conroe, it's helping police to fight crime. The Conroe Police Department has only been using Facebook for two months and officers tell us their new Facebook friends are already helping them catch crooks.

Facebook is known as a hot spot for people to catch up with friends and it's become a hot, new crime fighting tool for Conroe police.

"It works. The witnesses are looking at it and they are giving us information," said Sgt. Joe Smart of the Conroe Police Department.

Sergeant Smart says Conroe police have been using its Facebook page to profile suspects and criminals since May -- like a woman accused of stealing credit cards, masked gunmen caught on tape burglarizing a local store and a suspected computer thief, who the department's Facebook friends just helped police catch.

"We put the video on our Facebook page and within a week, a citizen appeared and said, 'Hey I know who that is,'" said Sgt. Smart.

Police say Facebook friends in Conroe already helped them catch two wanted suspects and gather leads on several other open cases.

"I think it's a good idea -- to help do their job and catching people that are doing wrong," said Phillip Bannerman.

And that's not the only way Conroe PD's finding success with Facebook.

"We use it to also communicate information about what's going on in town, communicate information about who your policemen are," Sgt. Smart said.

The department uses the site to profile a different employee each week. It also posts crime prevention tips regularly. And it posts heat maps to alert users where thefts, burglaries, car break-ins and other crimes are happening around town.

Some Facebook users are calling that proactive policing.

"Crime is up and I think the more eyes and tools to protect the people that are doing everything, honestly," said Susan Whiddon.

You can find them on Facebook by searching for Conroe Police Department and clicking the 'Like' button.

Officers say Facebook's been so successful that they are now working on another site for the public.