COLUMBIA CITY, Ind. (WANE) The people of Columbia City posted and shared all the right info on social media after a popular playground was vandalized, and together they helped solved a crime.
It all started Saturday night when two people started a fire causing $800 worth of damage to the Every Kids Dreamland playground. What they didn’t know was that the whole act was caught on camera and that the Columbia City parks department would put it on Facebook and eventually it would be shared more than 500 times.
“For something bad to happen like that they are ready to find out who it is and to see that many shares I think speaks about the community we’re from,” parks director Mark Green said. “I think it’s going to be tough to get away with something like that in a smaller community like Columbia City.”
All that sharing and posting on social media helped police pinpoint the suspects.
“We had tips coming in within an hour of the pictures that were posted and the first two tips we got actually were spot on and helped us to identify the suspects,” Columbia City Police Detective Tim Longenbaugh said.
This isn’t the only crime that was solved with the help of social media in our area this week. Two juveniles stole a surveillance camera off a building in Grant County, but not before it got a snapshot of them which was then posted on social media. Grant County Sheriff’s Detective Kyle Beal said all the attention the story got on social media lead to the two young men coming forward and confessing to the crime.
Columbia City Detective Tim Longenbaugh said sites like Facebook and Twitter are becoming powerful tools for police officers.
“Lots of people see it in a short amount of time which is great for us because we’re able to get tips really fast and the faster we can get the tips the better chance we have of solving the crimes,” Longenbaugh said.
Crimes that will hopefully serve as lessons to others.
“I definitely think it’s going to be a learning experience for our community,” Green said. “That’s why they [cameras] are there. We’ve had problems with vandalism in the past, so it’s nice to know that we were able to catch somebody doing something wrong.”
The names of the people involved in the Columbia City case are being withheld until the investigation wraps ups. Longenbaugh said recommendations for criminal charges have been sent to the Whitley County prosecutor for consideration.