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To Catch A Thief: Modesto Business Owners Turning To Social Media

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MODESTO (CBS13) — Business owners are trying a new tactic to catch criminals—turning to social media to shame shoplifters.

The new form of crime fighting has led to several arrests, but how do they keep from posting a picture of an innocent person?

Some store owners say they’ve been hit by thieves dozens of times, and posting surveillance video has helped law enforcement crack a few cases.

Darlene Dover, the owner of Envy Fine Clothing, is fighting back with the power of social media.

She and other store owners are posting pictures, and even video of suspected shoplifters on social media.

Dover says she does her own investigation to avoid shaming an innocent person.

“When we do title it, we say this is a suspect in a possible burglary. That way we aren’t [convicting] anybody before they get their day in court.”

The shop’s Facebook page is filled mostly by fashion finds and sales. But the ones about suspected shoplifters get plenty of hits.

Investigators warn that for more serious crimes, releasing too much might actually hurt the case. They say that surveillance pictures coupled with social media can be a powerful to catch a crook, though.

“If it helps the business owners identify someone so they maybe don’t let them in again, or it can help other businesses recognize the person, we will follow up with that information.”

The store owner the video evidence often leads to an arrest, and sometimes the shoplifters have a rap sheet, so the petty theft crime turns into a parlor violation, and sends them behind bars.

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