Lehigh neighbors use social media to help track down accused thief

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A neighborhood came together to help solve a crime after a Lehigh Acres woman posted surveillance video of an accused thief sneaking onto her property.

Neighbors did some detective work and helped deputies make an arrest.

A man caught on home surveillance camera is shown ripping a fake camera off a pole, stealing a ladder from a Lehigh Acres home and then tossing the dummy camera into the woods.

“With posts on social media you get to a lot of more users faster then you would anywhere else,” said Estero resident Jordan Davis.

The post has more than 400 shares and 200 comments as neighbors spotted the accused thief around town.

Crime Stoppers said social media plays a key role in solving cases like this one.

“Video and pictures are gold,” said Crime Stoppers coordinator Trish Routte. “Those are everything because you know if we can catch somebody red-handed in the act that is something that we can take them to court.”

Deputies arrested 44-year-old Justin Marecz for the crime after reviewing the footage and many social media posts.

While Facebook helped in this case, Routte said social media can also create inaccurate tips.

“In other cases You know we don’t want to see an innocent person implicated or have them blown up on social media when they had absolutely nothing to do with the crimes,” Routte said.

An important reminder to always be careful on what you read or post.

“What you see on social media is not gospel,” Routte said. “It’s not guaranteed to be the truth. Is it helpful? Absolutely, but it’s not gospel.”

Marecz is out on bail, facing multiple charges including theft and tampering with evidence.

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