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Facebook postings help Willmar police solve thefts captured on security cameras

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Police Department is crediting Facebook with helping police identify and arrest two suspects this week in a pair of recent thefts.

The tactic proved so successful that police are considering using Facebook more often to help locate suspects whose images are caught on security video cameras, Police Chief Dave Wyffels said today.

One of the thefts was a robbery that took place Jan. 25 at Trav's Dino Mart on South First Street. The other theft was at Korthuis Jewelry in downtown Willmar Feb. 8.

In both cases, pictures of the suspects were captured on security cameras. Wyffels said the police department decided to post the images on the Willmar Police Facebook page in hopes of receiving tips from the public.

The postings led to numerous tips that helped solve the convenience store robbery, Wyffels said. They also were instrumental in identifying both men as suspects in the jewelry store theft, he said.

One of the suspects, age 20, faces charges of attempted simple robbery and theft. The other suspect, age 22, was arrested on charges of attempted simple robbery, theft and fifth-degree assault.

More than 790 people saw the two postings on Facebook, Wyffels said. He said police are now considering using the same strategy to seek identification of other suspects caught on security video cameras.

The police department has collected numerous images of people involved in unsolved shopliftings and gas drive-offs, Wyffels said. Posting the images on Facebook might help solve some of these crimes and deter similar crimes in the future, he said.