Storeowner sends Facebook 'friend request' to catch a thief

A Manitoba store owner used social media to respond to a recent theft, reaching out to the suspected thief with a Facebook friend request.

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Stefan Tergesen, the owner of H.P. Tergesen & Sons in Gimli, Man., says the theft occurred on Friday morning.

Security footage from that time shows a young man breaking through a window and running straight to a glass display case containing watches. The man then swipes a few timepieces before making his escape.

Tergesen reviewed the footage after the incident, and then decided to go to social media for help identifying the man.

"I put the little bit of footage onto our Facebook page and our Instagram page, and asked our customers and friends if they could share it around and see if we could identify who this person was," Tergesen said.

Within 12 hours, Tergesen had the suspect's name, along with a screenshot of his Facebook page.

Tergesen then decided to take his social media sleuthing a little further.

He sent a friend request to the suspected thief, and says it wasn't long before he had a reply.

"I wish I could have been there to see his face when he got the friend request from me," Tergesen said. "It wasn't much ... later that he accepted the friend request and came to the response that he would be turning himself in."

In his response, the suspect apologized for his actions and said he wanted to make amends.

"I turned myself in," the man said in an online message. "I couldn't live with what I did and I'll be returning everything. I'm willing to face the consequences and I couldn't be more sorry for what I did."

Tergesen wrote back and said he planned to deal with the incident through the authorities.

"You are doing the right thing turning yourself in. It could only be worse if you didn't," he wrote. "I will be in touch with the RCMP tomorrow."

Speaking with CTV Winnipeg, Tergesen said the case is an example of the power of social media.

But the RCMP says it doesn't recommend contacting suspected thieves, as criminals could respond unpredictably.

Instead, a spokesperson told CTV Winnipeg, victims of crime should forward any information they have to authorities.

With files from CTV Winnipeg



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