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El Dorado County Using Social Media to Catch Criminals

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PLACERVILLE --

Social media is no longer simply about chatting and posting photos.  It's also a powerful took for law enforcement.  The El Dorado County District Attorney's office is a prime example.

Investigators Dave Stevenson is leading the charge.  It started on February 25 of this year with Most Wanted Wednesday.

"This is the first wanted poster that we used. A sex offender and he escaped from a mental health facility," Stevenson said.

Stevenson posts mug shots and information about fugitives to Facebook.  The public takes care of the rest.

"It's a community effort.  The involvement by the community to share these, to read them and get them out to the people," Stevenson said.

So far of the 29 criminals posted, 17 have been caught, thanks to social media.  Some of them took just hours to track down.

There's a strong online community in El Dorado County.  Laura Clark is an administrator of Facebook group "El Dorado County Watch."  It has nearly 20,000 members.  The posts range from missing people to stolen cars.

"It's kind of amazing. We just try to keep it about the information," Clark said.

The group also shares Most Wanted Wednesday posts. After the success of that program, the DA's ofice started making short videos to bring attention to the county's more than 60 cold case homicides.

They hope the community helps crack those cases just as they've helped get criminals off the streets.

The DA's office releases a cold case homicide video monthly.  They post a Most Wanted Wednesday weekly.