Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

March 1, 2013

Social media helps local law enforcement officers fight crime

BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — Local law enforcement officers are paying close attention to social media posts in their efforts to corral criminals at work in the area.

Facebook is just one of the social media vehicles that law enforcement officers have been using to monitor suspicious activity, and try to disrupt would-be criminals from gaining entry to homes.

“Earlier this week, we started hearing of suspicious vehicles associated with a local cable television provider,” Mercer County Sheriff D.B. “Don Meadows said. “We heard that someone in a silver sedan was driving through neighborhoods and knocking on doors.”

Meadows said that four deputies responded and patrolled the vicinity in response to those reports. “We didn’t stop anyone that time, but we stopped seeing reports of any suspicious vehicles.”

The next day, Meadows said that deputies heard reports about a person in a black Chevrolet Tahoe driving through a neighborhood. “Deputy Willie Rose stopped the individual, and he turned out to be a vacuum cleaner salesman.

“Although everything was OK with that situation, people need to be cautious no matter who they are,” Meadows said. “If they’re with a reputable company that does business in the area, they will have a uniform with the company name on it and a proper photo identification badge.

“We have been really fortunate in the past couple of weeks making arrests on some of these people and recovering some of the items that they stole,” Meadows said. “That doesn’t mean that people can let their guard down.”

Lt. C.S. Myers of the Bluefield Police Department said he his aware of other regional scams including the one that involves people posing as college students who try to gain access to residences.

“We haven’t had any of those in the city, but they’re active in the region,” Myers said.

“We get complaints about suspicious vehicles in communities every day,” Major Harold Heatley, chief deputy of the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department said. “We deal with them on a daily basis.”

He said that he isn’t aware of the television cable or college student scams in Tazewell County, but he emphasized that deputies respond to check out all complaints. “When someone calls our office, we check it out,” he said.