Popular social media group helps solve crimes in Hawaii: “We essentially help people find their stolen property, identify criminals who have victimized them, as well as return lost and found property.” explained Michael Kitchens, founder of Stolen Stuff Hawaii.
“We essentially help people find their stolen property, identify criminals who have victimized them, as well as return lost and found property.” explainedÂ Michael Kitchens, founder ofÂ Stolen Stuff Hawaii.
Kitchens started the Facebook groupÂ in 2014, after his brother-in-law’s van was stolen.
“It was just one of those things where there was no way to really reach out and get help. I wanted to find more people who might’ve saw what happened. Â I just thought hey, social media’s really powerful. Let’s give it a try,” said Kitchens.
Since then, it has grown to the point where nearly 10%Â of Hawaii’s population is part of the community.
Stolen Stuff Hawaii can be found on both Facebook and Instagram, its Facebook page has over 112,000 followers, its Instagram page has over 5,000.
In a matter of minutes, one post on the page canÂ easily get thousands of shares.
“You share it to your page, someone sees it, they share it to their page, and it’s just this big long chain that originates back from Stolen Stuff Hawaii.” Kitchens said.
The posts run the gamut, from murders to break-ins, missing family members to lost pets, to an online lost and found.
“We’ve had everything from success stories from finding lost cars, recently we had someone who found a cross that was over 50 years old. I mean it had been lost in the waters of Waikiki for over 50 years.” Kitchens explained.
Oahu resident James Murray credits Stolen Stuff for helping him find his brand new stolen truck just days after it happened.
“I saw a post on there that said there was an abandoned one with paper plates on it, cause it was brand new, in Niu Valley. So I went over there with my other keys and it was it. Then I called the police.” Murray said.
It’s not only community members grateful for the site. The Honolulu Police Department says it works with Kitchens on a weekly basis and say it’s a huge benefit in helping them do their job.
“What it does is it gets the word out of who we’re looking for and it also gives people a chance to know what’s happening in their communities, know what to look out for, and to kind of just be the eyes and ears of the police department and their own community.” Detective Joel Gonsalves, Honolulu Police Department said.
As police explain, the power of social media can also have its drawbacks.
“The danger it creates is that it creates a snowball affect, and people kind of jumping on the bandwagon, and with all of the outrage, sometimes there a lot of words that go back and forth, there’s families involved there might be kids involved.” explained Gonsalves.
A reason why Kitchens says about 20 volunteers monitor the site.
“I believe the majority of people want to do the right thing, and want to get involved, and what Stolen Stuff Hawaii does, is give them a vehicle to do it.” Gonsalves said.
“Just me and my friends looking isn’t as good as good as 120,000 people on the island scouring everything for you, helping you out.”Â said Murray.