Most people use social networking for things like locating people they went to high school with, or to keep in touch with distant friends. Sultan School District uses social networking to keep the community updated on events happening at the school, and also, apparently, to catch burglars.
On April 3, a thief entered Sultan High School, stealing four laptops and a few other miscellaneous items. Fortunately, the school is equipped with top-of-the-line security cameras which were able to capture digital footage of the individual as he navigated school corridors.
Dave Moon, Technology Coordinator for Sultan School District, was able to build a photo compilation out of a few select images, which he then posted on the school’s Facebook page. The suspect was quickly identified and in less than 24 hours was apprehended and booked into Snohomish County Jail for burglary.
“There is no doubt in my mind this burglary was solved by our friends on Facebook; it was just amazing to see the community in the Sky Valley come together collectively to identify and help in his arrest,” said Moon.
The video footage clearly showed the suspect during his illicit stroll through the school, turning on lights as he traveled through hallways and rooms. Moon was even able to determine that the perpetrator gained access by scaling an outside wall on the south side of the building. Further examination of the footage seemed to indicate that the suspect had an accomplice who was hiding by the softball field.
The decision to post the picture compilation on Facebook was jointly made by both Moon and the school district superintendent, Dan Chaplik.
Within 15 minutes of posting it, several people had commented on the picture, identifying the individual as a well-known local who had been in trouble with the law previously, said Moon.
“By the end of the day the post had gone viral with thousands of hits, and hundreds of shares,” said Moon.
Two of the laptops have been recovered and returned to the high school, and there is a strong possibility that the other two will be identified and eventually returned. Serial numbers of all four laptops were obtained through the school’s equipment tracking software.
The burglar also attempted to break into Sultan Middle School on the same day, but was intercepted by school maintenance staff who chased him off. At that point it was not known that he had just broken into the high school.
When Moon reviewed the video feeds taken from each school, he was able to determine it was the same individual.
Moon doesn’t know exactly how many people called 911 with tips to help catch the crook, but was told by local law enforcement that the number was substantial.
“I am sure he will think twice before stealing from the school district again,” said Moon.