Social media plays big role in Smyrna burglary arrests

According to authorities, Brian A. Allen, left, and Jason M. Bowser were identified as suspects in an alleged July 13 Smyrna residential burglary after public assistance through social media. (Submitted photos/Smyrna Police Department)

According to authorities, Brian A. Allen, left, and Jason M. Bowser were identified as suspects in an alleged July 13 Smyrna residential burglary after public assistance through social media. (Submitted photos/Smyrna Police Department)

SMYRNA — After investigation into a reported residential burglary stalled last month, police turned to social media this week and quickly made an arrest.

According to Smyrna Police Department spokesman Cpl. Brandon Dunning, the case of a July 13 incident in the 500 block of Green Branch Lane was boosted by an anonymous tip that brought the arrest of a 27-year-old Dover man and identification of a second suspect still sought.

After surveillance video images of a vehicle and suspect descriptions from a witness were released to the public on Tuesday, Cpl. Dunning said the public responded almost immediately with information as the investigation was revived.

“We began to receive information within minutes from everyone eager to help with the investigation. The tip that led to the identification and subsequent arrest came in within 24 hours,” Cpl. Dunning said.

Eventually, Smyrna PD said it received 12 tips in 24 hours after social media posts.

Information was posted through Smyrna PD’s website — smyrnapolice.org — Facebook, and Twitter and via the department’s smartphone MyPD application.

While lightning fast information sharing is now available through technological advances, Cpl. Dunning said it only works if citizens buy into the concept of assisting law enforcement.

“Social media is playing a much larger role in aiding in investigations. In reality it’s the people in the community that are aiding our investigations,” Cpl. Dunning said.

“We can post things on any social media site but without the assistance, insight, and information from the citizens in the community it’s useless. The great thing about our success so far is that we are asking for assistance and the community is stepping up and being our eyes and ears for us; this most recent investigation is a prime example.”

Regarding the burglary investigation, Cpl. Dunning said an observant tipster recognized the vehicle image posted publicly online and provided a registration number to police.

According to Smyrna PD, having citizens aware of their capability of helping investigations is a tremendous boost to fighting crime.

“The amazing part about this type of relationship, from a law enforcement perspective, is that we now have not just our officers on the street being vigilant and observant but we are able to add thousands of eyes and ears on the street to be on the lookout,” Cpl. Dunning said.

Also, Cpl. Dunning said neighboring police agencies earlier provided relevant information after being notified of the alleged incident as investigation began.

An arrest made

Brian A. Allen, of the 200 block of North Governor Boulevard, was identified as the owner of the alleged vehicle in the surveillance video, and arrested on Wednesday after voluntarily turning himself in at the Smyrna PD, authorities said.

Mr. Allen was charged with misdemeanor receiving stolen property under $1,500, and arraigned via video phone in JP Court 2 in Rehoboth Beach. He was released on $750 bail pending a future court date, authorities said.

Also, Smyrna PD said an arrest warrant was obtained for Jason M. Bowser, 30 of Dover. Authorities said he is wanted for pending second-degree burglary, criminal mischief under $1,000, theft under $1,500, and conspiracy charges.

Authorities alleged that Mr. Bowser committed the burglary and then gave items to Mr. Allen, who pawned them for money.

Police said the original incident was investigated after a homeowner returned home from work and allegedly found his residence had been burglarized after forcible entry during the day.

Police said initial investigation found that an unknown or suspects allegedly took an XBOX gaming system, games, controllers, a headset, and television from the home.

After pursuing the case and “exhausting all efforts” to identify the suspect’s vehicle, Cpl. Dunning said, police decided to release information to the public on Tuesday.

“The Smyrna Police Department would like to express our gratitude to everyone who is committed to helping us solve crimes and keep our community safer, without the publics support and help our jobs would be much more difficult,” Cpl. Dunning said.

Authorities asked anyone with information on Mr. Bowser’s whereabouts to contact Smyrna PD at 653-9217, submit tips online or via private message onliine or though Facebook, or through Delaware Crime Stoppers at (800) TIP-8333.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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