Social networking software

Facebook Profile Helps to Catch a Thief

We hear tales of deception on Facebook every day, typically involving criminals who fool unsuspecting users into giving up sensitive information. But a savvy service station manager in Massachusetts recently used the social network to catch a criminal instead.

[See also: 6 Facebook, Twitter mistakes that can get you fired]

Nicole Telles, manager of Prestige Car Wash and Gas Station in Taunton, Mass., told police a man had visited the station in late November and stole a 27-inch flat screen TV that was inside the station's bathroom. Customers enjoy being able to watch television while using the bathroom, she explained. However, 20-year-old Tyler Hurst decided to take things a bit further and took the flat screen right off its mount. He hid the TV under his shirt and took off, according to Telles.

But while he was there, Hurst had also paid for gas using his credit card. So, in addition to knowing what he looked like, store officials also had his name, which Telles used to find him on Facebook. She sent him a friend request, and he promptly accepted -- even though he and Telles had never met.

Once Telles had hooked up with Hurst on Facebook, she had access to pictures and other personal information. Her boss then sent the thief a message on Facebook and asked him to return the TV. In return, he promised, Prestige would not contact police. When he ignored the message and dropped Telles as a friend, she called police and gave them his information, as well as many of the pictures she had found of him on Facebook, so officials could be sure they had the right person. Hurst was arrested soon after for the crime.

Read more about data protection in CSOonline's Data Protection section.

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