(PHILADELPHIA) — A 10-year-old girl and her 2-year-old brother were walking back from buying sweets in South Philadelphia when a man suddenly came from behind and tried to make off with the terrified girl.
He placed his hand over her mouth lifted her from the ground and, as the girl’s brother screamed, the man stumbled as he tried to drag the girl towards his car. After struggling for a brief period, the man eventually gave up and fled the scene.
The attempted abduction in South Philadelphia Tuesday was caught on video and now detectives from the Special Victims Unit are using it to hunt down the would-be kidnapper.
The Philadelphia Police Department has been a pioneer in the use of YouTube and social media, including Twitter and Facebook, to help solve crimes. Their Facebook page has more hits than any law enforcement page except the FBI page. Since last February they have used the wide distribution of video and social media to catch 87 suspects, including alleged murderers and rapists.
Two unrelated murder cases were solved by surveillance tape from one corner store. In one case, the suspect’s own mother turned him in after seeing her son on one tape. In the other, a rape and murder was solved when a neighbor recognized the man who was following the victim.
When Bas Slabbers was attacked on a city bus in late May, no one on the bus would assist him or call 911. After police released video of the attack via social media, however, they got several tips about the identity of the attacker and made an arrest. Witnesses apparently didn’t want to risk getting involved while the crime was occurring on the bus, but were willing to identify the attacker electronically.
At a press conference Wednesday, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said that alleged crimes, like the one caught on tape Tuesday, are “completely unacceptable.”
“Our children must be able to walk around their own neighborhood without lowlifes like this individual coming up and grabbing them, touching them, or doing anything else. It’s completely unacceptable, totally outrageous, we need the public’s help,” Nutter said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Eliott C. McLaughlin and Joshua Berlinger, CNN
Carina Storrs Special to CNN