Best not to have victims at all, of course, but if you must, keep them at arm’s length.
FindLaw reports (via WHDH.com) that a thief was arrested in Taunton, Massachusetts, after accepting a “friend” request on Facebook by an unknown person who turned out to be the manager of a car wash he had just stolen a TV from. No one saw the theft, but it was recorded on a surveillance-camera tape that the manager reviewed after the TV was reported missing. The tape clearly showed a man exiting the men’s restroom with a 27-inch flat-screen TV under his sweatshirt.
Not explained in the reports:
- Why a car wash had a 27-inch TV in its restroom;
- Why nobody noticed someone leaving with a 27-inch flat-screen TV under his sweatshirt; or
- Why the suspect stole from a place where he had just used his credit card, thus providing his name.
After the theft was noticed, the manager looked up the transactions made at about that time, and then tried searching the names on Facebook. The third search result showed a picture of someone she thought she recognized. “He looked like the guy, and I was like, all right, let me request him” to be a Facebook friend, she said. After he accepted, she gained access to his other pictures and confirmed it was the same person.
Her boss then sent him a message saying they would not prosecute if he brought the TV back, which I don’t think is the sort of message people expect to get via Facebook. He should have taken that offer. Instead, he tried to “unfriend” his unfriendly new friend, which did not do much good since she had already identified him.
Most likely, the police eventually could have tracked him down using the credit-card information alone, but this is yet another lesson in the perils of Facebook.