Video, social media and alert police officers take criminal off the streets

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DENVER — What started as a local journalism student’s reporting on an education bill at the state capitol turned into a lesson on personal safety.

Metro State student, Jesse Salazar said, “I was very friendly and doing my thing. The next thing I know, my phone’s gone.”

It turns out, Jessica had recorded a crime in progress.

Watch the video clip above and you will see a guy slip his hand in her camera bag and take her phone.

She said, “When I saw the video I was like, ‘I knew it!’ Your camera bags aren’t supposed to be in the shot, but I guess my camera work still needs some work. Thank goodness it was in the shot because I wouldn’t have known who took my phone and they wouldn’t have caught this guy.”

Jessica put the video on YouTube, and shared it with everyone she knew on social media, including us.

She said, “We tweeted it, Facebook, just asking everyone if they’d seen him or knew him to contact me because I was like, ‘I’m going to find him myself.’”

We sent the link to Denver Police. District Six Commander Tony Lopez said, “As luck would have it, one of our officers recognized this individual and while on patrol today (Thursday), called in additional resources and were able to apprehend the individual in question.”

Not only that, they discovered he was wanted for a much more serious crime.

Commander Lopez said, “Come to find out he’s also wanted on a $100,000 warrant for a robbery committed last year. So it was really important for us to get this individual off the street. An opportunistic thief is always looking for things easy to steal. Had we not apprehended this individual, who knows who else he might have victimized in our community.”

He said it was a true team effort. “It’s law enforcement working with neighborhood groups, business owners, residents and our friends in the media to improve the quality of life in our city.”

And he says the officers that spotted the wanted thief have worked in the downtown area for years, which pays off.

Commander Lopez said, “This is in step with Chief White’s vision to have same officers work in same geographic area so they get to know patterns of residents and they can tell if something is out of the ordinary.”

Jesse said, “I didn’t think they’d actually catch him and then when I got the phone call this morning, I said ‘no way, I can’t believe it.’ Just shows the power of social media itself. You know that makes me feel good, I wish that more people could do this, if we could catch more criminals this way, our society would be so much better.”

Jesse says she hopes this is a lesson for everyone to be more aware. As for her phone, she said, “I probably won’t see it again, but that’s OK because I feel the message is greater than my phone and we got someone off the streets and he’s not going to do that to someone else.”