A push to use more video on social media and the web has helped the Lexington Police Department solve crimes.
In 2016, the police department produced 28 videos, including three surveillance recordings for its website and YouTube channel and for social media, said public information officer Brenna Angel. In just the first four months of 2017, 19 videos, including eight surveillance videos, have been uploaded.
Of the 11 surveillance videos posted since Angel joined the department in January 2016, seven have led to charges filed. Property was recovered in three of those cases, Angel said. Some suspects have turned themselves in once the material was posted.
Angel shared an edited surveillance video Wednesday on YouTube of a mother’s wallet being stolen from a Family Dollar on Feb. 12. The video showed the mother accidentally leave her wallet on the counter after paying for merchandise. The next person in line was then seen placing the wallet in her purse.
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Within hours of posting the video to YouTube and sharing it with news organizations, the suspect who took the wallet came forward and was identified, Angel said in a news release. The woman will be issued a court summons for misdemeanor theft by unlawful taking.
“That was pretty great,” Angel said. “It surprised even some people here.”
On Friday, video of a smiling Kmart shoplifter was released in the hopes viewers’ tips would identify him.
Angel has edited and posted all the police department’s videos using a Nikon D5300, a shotgun microphone, and editing software. The videos, which are primarily located on Facebook and YouTube, range from recruitment commercials to the surveillance footage released when detectives have exhausted all leads.
That was the case earlier this month when Angel, who was formerly the mayor’s deputy director of communications and a WUKY anchor, released a surveillance video of man entering Willcutt Guitars on Rosemont Garden in March, asking for the price of a guitar and then running out of the store with the instrument without paying.
Less than a week later, the man turned himself in to police to the relief of Sgt. Todd Johnson, whose team was handling the case.
“The turnaround has been really good since we started doing video,” said Johnson, who has been with the department for 23 years. “We generally only ask Brenna to get involved when we need some assistance from the community. She’s taken it to another level and hopefully it will continue.”
Fernando Alfonso III: 859-231-1324, @fernalfonso