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This article was published on December 7, 2012

Local police post mugshots on Pinterest, leading to a 57% boost in arrests

Local police post mugshots on Pinterest, leading to a 57% boost in arrests

Pinterest isn’t just about pinning the stuff you like any more: users are now posting mugshots and helping find the police catch crooks. The new trend began when a crime reporter at The Mercury in Pottstown started a “Wanted by Police” gallery. The results have been astounding.

“We’ve actually seen a 57 percent increase in our warrant services, and we actually got more people based on our tips and our calls,” Richard Drumheller, Captain at the Pottstown Police Department, told NPR. “For us it’s like, ‘Yes,’ because it’s very enjoyable in police work when the public helps you.”

The tip line has been ringing off the hook. In fact, Drumheller says some people even called in to say they had seen their own mugshot online and have asked to turn themselves in to authorities.

Yet despite what the gallery’s name implies, this isn’t a most wanted list. These are just pictures of people with outstanding warrants, anything from DUI to theft to assault.

Yet the story doesn’t end with the small police department in Pottstown. NPR reports the tool was noticed by police in Philadelphia, who were already solving crimes with social media and has as a result started using Pinterest in the same way (see Philadelphia Police Department).

Identifying suspects via Pinterest is a new trend, and it looks like it’s one that may spread from police department to police department. Yet it’s really part of a bigger one where social networks are encroaching into all walk of life, from consumers to businesses, as well as from criminals to police officers.

Instagram may be all about photos, but it simply doesn’t fit the use case here. Pinterest does: it is growing very quickly, it’s even more picture-oriented than say Facebook or Twitter, and it has both desktop and mobile users.

Image credit: Michal Zacharzewski