Police have arrested a Richmond man for allegedly stealing a trailer containing $200,000 in art, the Contra Costa Times reported.
The cargo trailer was stolen on September 4. Inside were pieces of handmade glass-blown art, which are made by either free-blowing or mold-blowing, that belong to Chicago artist Alexis Silk, who planned to exhibit the pieces at the Sausalito Art and Wine show. The trailer containing the artwork was parked in front of the home of the artist’s friend and was stolen the day before the show.
“The art pieces are unique, in that they are mostly of transparent human figures,” the Richmond Police Department said in a Facebook post. “The pieces are equivalent to the size of a normal human torso, so they would be very obvious if seen.”
After releasing photos of the artwork, police received tips on social media, which led them to identify a suspect.
On December 14, police arrested Mario Silva, who admitted to stealing the trailer full of art.
Police have said that all 17 art pieces were recovered and returned to the artist. Silva had left some of the stolen art in the city’s Central District and decided to stow the rest in a storage container.
“We showed you photographs of the artwork, asked for tips, and spread the word on social and mainstream media,” said Richmond police Lt. Felix Tan. “Well, it worked. RPD’s Property Crimes Detective Josh Clark immediately put his investigative skills to the test and gathered enough information he received through social media. His leads, coupled with good police work led him to [Mario Silva].”
This is not the first time social media has helped police solve a crime, nor will it be the last. According to a 2012 survey of 1,221 federal, state and local law enforcement agents who use social media, four out of five officials used social media to gather intelligence during investigations. Half of the surveyed law enforcement officers said that they checked social media at least once a week. The majority said that social media helps them solve crimes faster.