'Old-fashioned police work' and social media lead to arrests after jingle dresses stolen
Police make arrests in jingle dress robbery after Crime Stoppers creates post on Facebook
Saskatoon Crime Stoppers and its popular Facebook page is being credited with helping nab suspects who allegedly stole powwow regalia last week.
A family from the Blood Reserve in Alberta were in Saskatoon on Oct. 30 for a powwow when seven custom-made jingle dresses and two sets of beadwork were stolen from their vehicle while they had supper at the McDonald's on 22nd Street West.
Saskatoon Police Service Crime Stoppers co-ordinator Ryan Ehalt said they were contacted and put out a Facebook post last week about the incident that was at first unsuccessful.
But when police received surveillance photos this week of four individuals who were trying to sell the dresses at a local pawn shop, tips took off.
"We added [the photos] to Facebook and it took off in a viral sense," he said.
"Within 16 minutes a female suspect in these photos had been identified. Then an officer who was out investigating additional information stumbled across three suspects out of the four, made an arrest and identified them."
So far two jingle dresses and some gloves have been recovered.
"It was good old-fashioned police work mixed in with a little bit of Crime Stoppers and a whole lot of Facebook," Ehalt said.
The Saskatoon Crime Stoppers page is unique in that its posts are creative and often contain some cheeky humour.
"We want to make it engaging," Ehalt said. "We want to tap into the emotion and frustration that everybody feels, even what police officers feel on a regular basis but oftentime we can't necessarily share it in that way."
They have also enlisted the help of businesses who have donated gift cards that are given out to tipsters.
Ehalt said one business has donated up to $700 in gift cards in the last couple of months.
Huge Facebook following
Their approach seems to be working.
Not only have they helped make arrests, the page has a huge following.
They have more than 26,000 followers making it one of the most followed crime stopper sites in Canada.
For example, Saskatoon's page has about 10,000 more followers than the Toronto Crime Stoppers Facebook page.