My Monday night effort to use crowdsourcing to identify the make and model of the vehicle involved in tossing four Molotov cocktails last week paid off. Several readers definitively pinpointed this as a first generation Neon (1995-1999)--including an FBI agent in another state who reads the Director's Desk.
Wednesday morning around 7:00 AM, a Crimestoppers tip was received from a person who had spotted a vehicle parked on the street in the vicinity of S. 50th and South Streets, with a pretty poor attempt at a car cover. The source mentioned two of the specific descriptors contained in my Monday night post, and knew that these matched the arson vehicle. Looks like he or she is a reader of my blog.
Dagnabbit, every time I think about calling it off and recapturing a few hours of my personal life, something like this happens that makes me rethink the value of blogging. In any event, the car has been seized, the suspect has been identified, and his surrender for arrest is presently being negotiated. These offenses will be cleared, and social media provided the key information.
It is the golden age of criminal investigations, suspects are leaving trails of evidence our predecessors could hardly imagine. No way a camera would have captured such images during the first 35 years of my career. We are still trying to figure out the best thing to do with these relatively new information streams. In some circumstances, keeping the cards close to the vest is the best police strategy. In most, however, engaging thousands of more eyeballs in the search is vastly preferable.