Laptop Thief Caught Thanks to Viral Video, Tweeting Tipster

By Brett Snider, Esq. on April 09, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A programmer in San Francisco got some justice after posting a viral video that showed her smartphone and laptop being swiped from a neighborhood cafe.

Police arrested Paul Raynal, 32, on Monday, after a tweeting tipster who'd seen the viral video spotted the alleged perpetrator at a nearby Starbucks -- wearing the same outfit seen in the video from three days earlier.

Can social media and stupidity combine to fight crime?

Security Cam, YouTube Lead to Arrest

Raynal's arrest isn't actually all that surprising when you consider that the alleged crime was caught on surveillance camera. Cafe owner Stephan Huh told the Bay Area's KNTV that he pulled "more than an hour of video" for the theft victim, Ahryun Moon, whose husband then posted it on YouTube. You can see the video here:

Security cameras like the cafe's are legal, as long as they serve a legitimate business purpose. So while it probably isn't legal to install cameras in the restroom, Joy's Place was legitimately interested in preventing or catching theft with its security cams.

KNTV reports that Moon's phone and laptop are still missing, but she is glad "a thief is off the streets."

Other YouTube Arrests

It's actually quite easy to get arrested after an incident is posted YouTube -- especially if the person posting the video is the suspect. Some notable examples include:

Prosecutors have had no issues using YouTube videos as evidence in prior cases, although in Moon's case, they'll likely just use the original footage from the cafe.

If Moon is lucky, the person(s) who still have her laptop and phone will also make a YouTube appearance.

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