Far reaching power of Facebook locates stolen car

Posted picture of bad parking job leads to cars recovery

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SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA - Jim Engelking came home to his Summit Hill neighborhood last Friday to discover he was the victim of an unusual home burglary.

After swiping electronics and jewelry, thieves piled beer and frozen food into a cooler from his kitchen, and even grabbed a bag of jellybeans.

Engelking says, though, his most valuable item was taken from the curb.

His prized 1998 red Volvo was gone, but several days later, he credits the far reaching powers of Facebook with helping find his stolen car.

Jim's daughter Katie is studying abroad in Antwerp, Belgium, and just happened to be checking Facebook that week, when a friend's status stood out from all the rest.

"She posted this picture of a bad park job and there was this little red Volvo in it that looked exactly like my dad's car. I texted to my mom and dad - and said this is dad's car," said Katie Engelking who is a senior at Marquette University.

"I thought it was a picture she took in Antwerp and said, not unless they put it on a fast boat and moved it," joked Jim Engelking. "Then she said no, it's in Saint Paul!"

But, as it turns out, his Volvo was parked right outside a Goodwill store on University Avenue in St. Paul, right where the Facebook photo captured this new angle in crime fighting.

Even better, Engelking says the car thieves may have had some goodwill of their own.

They left his new snowshoes in the trunk, and it even appeared they cleaned and vacuumed his backseat.

"The thief probably did him a service," said Katie. "He keeps it really messy with Diet Coke cans and Taco Bell wrappers, but he loves that thing."

St. Paul Police spokesperson Sgt. Paul Paulos says more people are commonly turning to social media to solve crimes.

"It's the new flyer," said Sgt. Paulos.

For many, he says there's no need to put up flyers in neighborhood for stolen items anymore, when it's easier to post a status.

For Engelking, it's now status solved.

"I think my daughter is hoping this doesn't turn me into a Facebook user but I certainly have a new found respect and appreciation for the power of social now," he said.

Engelking has not yet been able to recover his laptop, his wife's jewelry, or the stolen beer and jellybeans, but says the recovery of his beloved red car is what mattered most.

"I think the best part of it is, I don't have to get him a Father's Day gift now, since I probably saved him a couple thousand dollars on buying a new car," said Katie Engelking.

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