A lot of people see social media as the place where civility goes to die. They see users, safe behind keyboards, posting whatever unsettling thoughts pop into their heads. But sometimes social media brings communities together in strange ways.
When a couple discovered something had been stolen from their property, for instance, they turned to a social media group catered towards their community. And with the help of dozens of strangers, the couple made quite the discovery…
It was the morning of his then-fiancé’s birthday, and Jeff Horner was giddy with childlike glee. He’d ordered four gifts for her online, and UPS notified him they’d just arrived at the front door.
Jeff went outside to get the presents delivered to his doorstep to find only the welcome mat and metaphorical tumbleweeds. The presents were gone (dun dun DUN)!
That fine summer morning in Independence, Missouri, took a stressful turn for Jeff. Now he had to wake up his sleeping fiancée, Kylee Fratto, and tell her there were no presents on her birthday.
He explained the situation and it wasn’t the missing presents that bothered Kylee, but rather, seeing her fiancé, right, so broken up about it was “not a good way to wake up.”
The fact that his surprise gesture went belly up agitated Jeff. But the situation wasn’t entirely hopeless — not yet. You see, Jeff was a man who understood East Walnut Street, the block where he lived.
Jeff, a cautious man, had long ago set up a fixed Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) surveillance camera outside his house. In fact, months before this incident, they’d come in handy…
Then, the CCTV captured footage of a man with a tribal tattoo breaking into Kylee’s car. He stole a $450 anatomy textbook, but authorities never caught him. Would the camera pay off this time?
Jeff and Kylee decided to check the camera’s recent footage. They rewound to shortly after UPS allegedly delivered the packages and…bingo! On the monitor, two suspicious characters lurked outside the home.
The characters, a man and woman, lingered outside their East Walnut Street home, taking casual glances at the doorstep. Then, the woman set down a cup and walked towards the house.
She disappeared in the camera’s blind spot once she reached the packages, but sure enough, seconds later she emerged with Kylee’s presents. This, Jeff and Kylee agreed, would not stand.
The couple called the police, but they took justice into their own hands, too. Kylee posted surveillance pictures to a Facebook page where users came together to track stolen items in the Kansas City area.
Kylee asked for help identifying the thieves, and within seconds, community members pooled their knowledge to catch the birthday busters. The results were surprisingly fruitful.
Within minutes, Facebook users recognized the thieves and shared their profiles with Kylee. “We started getting names,” Kylee said. “And then once we got names…we got locations.” They were delighted.
Even better, the male thief had his phone number associated with his Facebook account. In other words, with help from the community, Kylee and Jeff seemed likely to nail these package pillagers.
When authorities arrived, Kylee and Jeff handed over all they knew: what the suspects looked like, their names, and one of their phone numbers. Would justice be served?
With all that information, police officers paid a visit to a home just a few doors down from Jeff and Kylee. The information they shared was enough to arrest the woman!
Unfortunately, the male slipped away and authorities only recovered two of four birthday gifts meant for Kylee, but at least Kylee could celebrate some justice. Still, the birthday girl learned something that day.
“Blasting this on social media and the response we got,” Kylee said, “it’s amazing how many people chimed in and said, ‘hey we know her, this is her name.’” She continued…
The community effort to catch the birthday bunglers “just honestly restored faith in humanity,” Kylee said, “because there are still decent people, and not everybody’s a jerk.”
Lastly, Kylee offered a warning: “if you want something, get a job, pay for it yourself,” she said. “Don’t steal it from everybody else. Karma—she comes and bites you in the butt!”
Kylee and Jeff surely aren’t the only couple to find justice through social media, either. It’s incredible what the internet can accomplish when law and order are at stake.