A programmer in San Francisco got some justice after posting a viral video that showed her smartphone and laptop being swiped from a neighborhood cafe.
Police arrested Paul Raynal, 32, on Monday, after a tweeting tipster who'd seen the viral video spotted the alleged perpetrator at a nearby Starbucks -- wearing the same outfit seen in the video from three days earlier.
Can social media and stupidity combine to fight crime?
Security Cam, YouTube Lead to Arrest
Raynal's arrest isn't actually all that surprising when you consider that the alleged crime was caught on surveillance camera. Cafe owner Stephan Huh told the Bay Area's KNTV that he pulled "more than an hour of video" for the theft victim, Ahryun Moon, whose husband then posted it on YouTube. You can see the video here:
Security cameras like the cafe's are legal, as long as they serve a legitimate business purpose. So while it probably isn't legal to install cameras in the restroom, Joy's Place was legitimately interested in preventing or catching theft with its security cams.
KNTV reports that Moon's phone and laptop are still missing, but she is glad "a thief is off the streets."
Other YouTube Arrests
It's actually quite easy to get arrested after an incident is posted YouTube -- especially if the person posting the video is the suspect. Some notable examples include:
- New York City "Speed Racer" Christopher Tang, who got pinched by the NYPD after he posted his record-breaking drive around Manhattan.
- "Chick bank robber" Hannah Sabata, who bragged on YouTube about her bank heist and was quickly apprehended.
- Matthew Cordle, who confessed to killing someone in a drunken driving incident on YouTube and was sentenced to six years in prison.
Prosecutors have had no issues using YouTube videos as evidence in prior cases, although in Moon's case, they'll likely just use the original footage from the cafe.
If Moon is lucky, the person(s) who still have her laptop and phone will also make a YouTube appearance.
- Internet Busts Coffee Shop Con Artist Filmed Stealing Apple Products (SFist)
- Viral 'Instant Karma' Road Rage Video Gets Driver Arrested (FindLaw's Legally Weird)
- One Way to Thwart a Mugger: Carry a Flip Phone (FindLaw's Legal Grounds)
- YouTube DUI Confessor Pleads Guilty to Fatal Crash (FindLaw's Blotter)