Coupeville Town Marshal Lance Davenport said he was able to track down a shoplifter with the help of the public and Internet.
By utilizing a free web service called CanYouID.me, Davenport was able to post surveillance images of a man suspected of stealing hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise from a Front Street business.
The March 3 shoplifting incident prompted Davenport to use the service shortly after becoming a member.
The owner of the shop provided 30 minutes of surveillance footage of the suspect.
Davenport said he was able to pull several good images of the man to create a suspect profile.
The case against the man in question, a 25-year-old Whidbey Island transient, was forwarded to the Island County Prosecutor’s Office for consideration of charges.
The website allows other law enforcement personnel as well as the public to search by town or city and look at images of people the police are looking for.
If someone recognizes a person they can contact that agency directly.
Davenport said within a week of posting images, he started receiving tips.
“It took about a week or so for people to start seeing,” he said. “Every couple of days info would trickle in.”
Davenport also said the information seemed to be coming from a wide variety of areas and didn’t appear to be coming from one group of people.
“It proved very successful,” he said.
Once Davenport had a suspect in mind he said he was able to compare the surveillance images with prior arrest photographs.
The man has a criminal past for similar types of crime.
“I feel strongly we identified the right person,” he said.
Because Coupeville has such heavy tourism traffic, the website might also prove useful in identifying suspects who don’t live on the island.
More often than not criminals go out of their area of residence to commit crime, Davenport said.