Chicago Police detectives seek tips from amateur sleuths on Facebook

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The black-and-white security video is short – just 7 seconds.

It was taken at 2:58 a.m. on Halloween, according to the time stamp.

Strobe lights flash against a metal security door and a young man wearing a baseball cap backward walks through the door.

Another man follows him through the door, looking down at the wallet and ID in his hands. Then he looks up and walks out of view.

The door shuts behind him.

The two men — suspects in a sexual assault — were identified earlier this month after the Chicago Police Department posted the video on Facebook, authorities said.

Numerous people made anonymous calls to detectives, giving them the names and even the dates of birth of the men. Many of those callers said they saw the video on Facebook.

Last week, one of the men, Gregory Bogacz, was arrested. He was the second man who walked through the door, police said. His alleged accomplice remains at large.

For years, the Chicago Police Department has provided the news media with photos and videos of suspects they hope to identify. Detectives often receive tips from newscast viewers and newspaper readers.

But the Nov. 4 Facebook posting marks the department’s first foray onto social media with a video of suspected criminals.

“With Facebook you have the ability to replay it and send it to your friends and look it up on your cellphone and iPad. We have about a dozen [videos] we plan to roll out shortly,” said Anthony Riccio, deputy chief of the detective division.

On Thursday, police posted a video of possible suspects in a Sept. 1 murder on their Facebook page.

Chicago is following the lead of the Philadelphia Police Department, which has released more than 500 videos in 2014. More than 100 of those videos resulted in arrests, authorities said.

The Halloween video posted on the Chicago Police Department’s Facebook page has received about 61,600 views, said Martin Maloney, a police spokesman. It was shared 946 times, he said.

Amateur cyber-sleuths immediately began to comment.

One said: “They paid to get inside. Second suspect has his wallet out and is putting it away. . . . Should be lots of witnesses to these two clowns.”

Another said: “Pretty clear video. Should be easy to ID them.”

People posted kudos to the police when Bogacz was busted.

On Nov. 12, Bogacz, 27, was charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault in the 3:15 a.m. attack on two women in the 800 block of West Wayman.

Bogacz and the other man were drinking and taking drugs at a party earlier in the evening, a witness told police. They went to The Mid nightclub just before 3 a.m. and left about 3:15 a.m., prosecutors said.

The women, ages 29 and 30, left the club and went to their SUV, where the men forced them to perform sex acts on them, prosecutors said.

Police showed the women the video and they confirmed the men were their attackers.

“We decided to throw it up on our Facebook page with a phone number. About the same time, we released the information to the news media,” Riccio said.

One of the first things detectives do at a crime scene is look for video of the suspects, said Jonathan Lewin, commander of public safety information technology. That’s because Chicago has the largest municipal network of publicly accessible video cameras — about 25,000 — plus “untold private cameras,” he said.

The Chicago Police decided to put crime-related videos on Facebook after a meeting about six months ago with FBI officials who showed them examples of social media being used to solve crimes in Philadelphia, Maloney said.

In September, a video posted on the Philadelphia police Facebook page helped lead to the arrest of two men and a woman suspected in a brutal attack on a gay couple that left one of the men with severe facial injuries.

On Thursday, the Philly police posted a video of a man robbing a store with a handgun. Their postings earlier this month have included a theft from a van and even a teenager vandalizing a park. The suspected vandal was busted after an anonymous tipster identified him, police said.

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