Local Restaurant Owner Uses Facebook to Track Down Thief

By Brady Smith, Anchor/Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - It was captured all on camera.

The security footage behind Riley's Cafe on 1st Avenue shows a woman walking through the back door last Friday, taking bags out, and then putting them into her vehicle. Riley's owner Richard Pankey told us on Tuesday that those bags were filled with around $2,200 worth of new power tools.

But instead of filing a police report, Pankey posted the surveillance pictures to Facebook, offering a cash reward for information on the woman. Pankey told us on Tuesday morning that same woman contacted him with an interesting explanation.

"She called me and said, 'I'm the person you're looking for, and you have to know that I was set up,'" Pankey said.

He said she told him that one of his staff members, a cook, had instructed her to pick up the tools. She called him just hours after he posted her picture to the Riley's Facebook page.

"She did the right thing," Pankey added.

As of Tuesday morning, Pankey had still not gotten the tools back, but he said the next step would be to file an official report with police, and fire the individual responsible.

Cedar Rapids Police Sergeant Cristy Hamblin said this is an example of how the internet and social media can be useful tools for solving crimes, but there are risks involved.

"There's going to be times when someone might be falsely accused," Hamblin explained.

She recommends that if business or home owners are unsure about posting security photos to the web in an attempt to solve a crime, they should contact an attorney.
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