Man Says Smartphone Thief Sent Him ‘Selfie’ Photos

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On the sidewalk near his home in Little Rock, Leon Tidwell stops to point out the place where he was attacked.

“I have to walk this same stretch every day. I’m legally blind, so the bus drops me off from work down at the corner and I walk this pathway home,” he said.

Roughly two weeks ago, Leon Tidwell’s regular walk home turned scary when a stranger walked up behind him and beat him over the head.

“He walked past me going the other way, and I didn’t think anything of it. The next thing I knew, something hit me on the head and I was on the ground,” he said. “Who’s this going to happen to next? And it was over a cell phone and wallet. “

Tidwell says the man took off with his smartphone. When Tidwell stared into the computer screen days later, and saw the photos in his Dropbox, he began passing the pictures around on the Internet.

“All I could think was this is crazy. This guy mugged me and he took pictures on my phone? ” Tidwell said. “So, I started sharing the pictures on Facebook. Now, they’re all over Little Rock.”

The “selfie” photos were taken on Tidwell’s stolen phone, but they were automatically uploaded to his Dropbox account.

“I never expected to see this guy again. I actually figured police wouldn’t have any leads whatsoever,” he said.

And that social media sharing, according to some law enforcement officers, can give them a helping hand on cases that might otherwise go cold.

“Information on Facebook and Twitter, it can spread from little rock all over the state in a matter of minutes,” said Lt. Carl Minden with the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office. “For some smaller crimes we’re not going to have the manpower to investigate them like we’d always want to. But social media is an instant force multiplier.”

In Tidwell’s mugging, Little Rock police now have a lead.

“With social media you can get that sense of community back,” Tidwell said. “You can actually help the police keep your neighborhood safe. They’re understaffed and overworked. So we should help them out however we can.”

Fox16 was able to find a personal profile with one of those photos posted in its mobile uploads — thanks to a link from a fellow Facebooker. Tidwell’s passed the man’s name and Facebook profile along to police.

“You can say hey, this guy hurt somebody in my community. I can help out,” he said. “I think that’s a good thing.”

Tidwell said he simply wants no one else to walk a mile in his shoes, feeling unsafe on their own streets.

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