WJTV News Channel 12 - Facebook helps Christiansburg Police crack shoplifting case

Facebook helps Christiansburg Police crack shoplifting case

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When Christiansburg Police needed help identifying the three women in a surveillance video, a popular social media site proved to be more than just fun.

On October 24th, police say three women walked into a Bed, Bath, and Beyond in Christiansburg and walked out with more than a $1,000 worth of items.

When a store employee went to stop them, she was pepper sprayed.  After the surveillance images hit our air waves, Assistant Police Chief Dalton Reid said tips starting pouring in.

"The teamwork between community and law enforcement is what makes things work," Christiansburg Assistant Police Chief Dalton Reid says. "We can't do it by ourselves and the public can't do it by themselves."

According to court documents, one tip led detectives to Facebook to confirm one of the shoplifters' identity.

That's where two images of 24-year-old Ashley Wiley came together. In the surveillance photo, police say  Wiley is seen carrying an identical red purse and has recognizable tattoos on her arm as her photo on Facebook.

This led police to arrest Wiley and charge her with a felony for shoplifting and misdemeanor of assault and battery. They were also able to identify the second shoplifter, 20-year-old, Shaquen Webb.

They know who the third suspect is and have plans to make the third and final arrest soon.

"We are getting more and more where we are using Facebook and social media because it leaves a trail and it something we are going to utilize," Reid says.

With the shopping season in full swing, Reid says his staff is prepared for more shoplifting issues like these.

We checked the facts and during the last three months of the year in 2011, 66 out 92 arrests were made for shoplifting. In 2012, 57 out of 223 arrests were made and so far this year, 59 our of the 190 arrests happened leading up to the holiday season.

Police plan to continue using social media and the public to identify those shoplifting subjects.

"It makes everything easier. It makes our life easier and makes everyone in the community safer," Reid says.

If using sites like Facebook helps police catch criminals, it's something Reid says they definitely 'LIKE.'

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