Man Involved in Riot Caught After “Liking” Photos on Police Facebook Page


Growing up, I might have been around some people that engaged in relatively minor pranks that could have resulted in criminal charges of Disorderly Conduct or Criminal Mischief being filed. I also remember some other people jumping a fence and swimming in a public pool after hours, which would have resulted in misdemeanor Criminal Mischief charges. The good news is that it was the era of bag phones, and very few kids had cameras. Now, with the advances in technology, kids have smart phones that not only allow them to take pictures but also to post them to social media like Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and the plethora of other social media sites of which I am not familiar.

In this case, a man was caught after he wanted to admire his own work of art by “liking” or “sharing” a photo on Facebook. The problem for the man was that the photo had been posted by the Huntington Beach Police Department on its Facebook page in an attempt to identify local rioters following a large surfing gathering sponsored by Vans. Based upon the man’s Facebook activity, the police were able to identify the man as being the man that vandalized a police car by spray painting a derogatory comment on the side. What did he paint? According to an online article, he wrote “the pigs.” The man didn’t take the concept of “laying low” to heart, and it appears that he instead wanted to enjoy and share the fruits of his labor with others. Also, of all the rioters involved, I expect that the police would want to arrest the person that was brazen enough to target a police car and blatantly disrespect police authority.

State College Police Use Photos to Identify Suspects of Criminal Activity

As a criminal defense attorney near Penn State University, I have seen the State College Police Department frequently use its website to post photos and ask for the assistance of Centre County residents and Penn State students to identify suspected perpetrators of criminal activity. Similar to the Huntington Beach Police, the local police used photos to identify Penn State students and other that were failed to disperse following the firing of Joe Paterno and were charged with rioting.  The police used coverage from the news media, including ESPN and local news broadcasters, that showed the persons involved in tipping a news van and jumping on it to identify both suspects and witnesses.  When the police identified a person, the person was called and often given the chance to  provide information to the police about the activities of other people in an attempt at leniency.  Many of the people had also taken pictures or recorded the events of their cell phones, so the police were able to obtain a lot of evidence from private individuals as well.

In a technology age in which almost everyone has a smartphone with camera and Internet access immediately available, the days of laying low may be over.