Perkins Township police photo for shoplifter goes viral

A social media post by the Perkins Township Police Department went viral after many on social media took issue with the post.
Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 11:32 AM EDT
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PERKINS TWP., Ohio (WTVG) - A local police department trying to catch an alleged thief on Facebook turns into a viral post and lots of people were not happy about it.

It showed a woman in Erie County shoplifting diapers at a Walmart. Many of the comments took issue with police posting someone who potentially couldn’t afford them.

Perkins Township police said they used one of their tools, in this case Facebook, to solve a crime and it gave them the lead they needed.

“We handled this complaint the way we’d handle all complaints. We’re going to run this investigation clear to the very end,” said interim Chief Jeffrey Musser.

Chief Musser’s department used the photo to identify the suspect but many on social media took issue with the photos, saying it unfairly portrayed what they believed was a mom struggling to provide for a young child. Lots of people then even offered to buy her diapers.

Despite the social media flack, the department says this case was not treated any differently.

“We investigate it until the end of it. Social media is one of the ways we do. Social media is not the first choice we use but when we run out of all other leads we will put an image up,” said Chief Musser.

13abc tried to speak to that suspect, Paige Stearns, on Thursday but the family said she didn’t have anything to say. She appeared in court Monday and pleaded no contest to theft and was not sentenced to any time behind bars.

With things like their baby diaper, food and formula collection drive in March, Chief Musser says his department actually supports women who are in tough situations and will continue to do so.

“Anybody that needs help or is in need can contact us. We have the resources we can point them to; the right non profit organizations to get them help,” said Chief Musser. “The more we can get that information out there, hopefully the more it will prevent this from happening.”

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