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12/20/2006
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To Catch A Thief, A Police Department Puts A Video On YouTube

The video shows two men using what is believed to be a stolen credit card to purchase merchandise at a Home Depot.

A Massachusetts police department has posted a video on YouTube that shows two men using what is believed to be a stolen credit card to purchase merchandise at a Home Depot.

Officer Brian Johnson, a night patrolman for the Franklin police, said Wednesday that he posted the surveillance video in the hope that someone will recognize the two men and alert police. "We want to get as many eyes on this as we can," said Johnson in an interview.

A security camera at the Home Depot captured a video of the two men as they nonchalantly used the card to check out items worth hundreds of dollars. Police said the pair stole a card just minutes before they carried out the transaction in the Home Depot.

The video was also uploaded to the police department's www.franklinpolice.com Web site, which the department typically uses to inform Franklin's 32,000 residents on law enforcement matters. Most postings alert residents to routine issues like traffic measures and winter parking bans.

Johnson, who is an evening patrolman in Franklin, said: "I'm a tech guy, too. I'm self-taught."

He said he favors posting videos on YouTube, because of the robustness of the site's bandwidth. By early afternoon Wednesday, the YouTube video had recorded nearly 800 views.

The Franklin police department is accustomed to operating on the cutting edge of technology and offers podcasts from time to time. "The podcasts are targeted towards our residents," said Johnson, who keeps a few hundred citizens informed through "an e-mail blast system."

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