Hood River Police search for suspect

Law enforcement uses Facebook to aid search for Safeway wallet thief

Hood River Police are using social media to identify a suspect in a recent theft case.

On Thursday the department posted a photo and message on Facebook asking for help in identifying a man who was viewed on store videotape taking a wallet. The wallet, belonging to a Hood River woman, was inside a purse that was left in a shopping cart Feb. 11 at Safeway in Hood River, according to Hood River Police Det. Mike Martin.

The suspect appears be 45-50 years old, with dark hair that is close-cropped and receding.

“The victim is local, but we don’t know about the suspect,” Martin said.

Currently, the case is listed as third degree theft, but it has the potential “to be way more than that,” Martin said.

In the stolen wallet were the victim’s credit cards and other personal identity information.

“We’re trying to stop this from turning into a case of felony ID theft,” Martin said.

The victim noticed the wallet was missing a short time after it was taken. She alerted store authorities, who contacted the police.

Martin said that in viewing the store videotapes, “We located where the victim’s cart was, and from there we were able to run the tapes and we watched the man take the wallet.

“Even though it’s a minor case right now, we are trying to head it off at the pass before it turns into an identity theft case, which are rampant these days,” Martin said.

Anyone with information about the suspect should call Martin at 541-387-5257.

Martin noted that the Facebook posting had yielded some responses, but not all are serious. One names the suspect as actor Harvey Keitel, and others include joking references to local individuals.

“The only thing we ask is this be taken seriously, as it is a crime we are investigating,” Martin said.

If the Facebook search appeal works in this case, the department will consider using the method in future investigations.

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imdeanna says...

While I believe the use of social media is a great outlet for police to solicit the public’s help, they need to ask the public to send their thoughts and leads privately. I saw that facebook post, and was horrified that people were finger pointing, or suggesting that the perp looked like specific local (innocent) citizens.

Posted 21 February 2013, 9:48 a.m. Suggest removal

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