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Man Wanted for Stealing in Missoula Confesses After Picture Distributed

gas man
Photo courtesy of Five Valley Crimestoppers

A case of theft that occurred at a Missoula area gas station on Friday, November 22, was resolved within an hour after images were distributed to the media.

“We had a report back on November 22 that an individual had gone into the Flying J up at the Wye and paid for gasoline,” said Missoula County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Paige Pavalone. “Apparently, he was told by the clerk that he needed to purchase a gas can because he was allegedly going to help someone that had run out of gas. He didn’t pay for the gas can, he paid for the gas and he left the store.”

On Monday, December 2, authorities sent out an image (see above) of the theft suspect and the case was solved within minutes.

“We had a description of him from video surveillance and we also had a description of the vehicle, so we pushed that information out there,” Pavalone said. “Then, in about 25 minutes, we got a call at our front desk. He called in and said he had seen his face on social media on a Can You ID Me? Crimestoppers photo. Now, he’s going to be coming back to Missoula to face the consequences of the theft of the gas can.”

Although this particular crime didn’t involve large sums of money, Pavalone said that the resolution of the case points to just how powerful social media can be as a crime fighting tool.

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