SEPTA turns to YouTube to solve crimes

A bus leaves the Midvale depot in Nicetown

A bus leaves the Midvale depot in Nicetown. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

SEPTA transit police are now using YouTube to help solve crimes.

The department launched a YouTube channel where they will release surveillance video in hopes that the public will identify people suspected of committing crimes on the system.

“We’re looking for ways to get an even broader reach,” said SEPTA transit police chief Thomas Nestel. “So not only does this provide the opportunity for the media to continue to put out our videos and our pictures, but it also provides us with an opportunity to have direct contact with our riders, and customers, and people in the community.”

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The Philadelphia Police Department has been using YouTube to post surveillance video since at least 2008. The channel has more than 32,000 subscribers and more than 19 million views.

Transit police officers worked with city officers to understand how the department uses YouTube.

The authority has already posted its first video, which shows the assault of a SEPTA employee. A Route 66 bus operator reported to authority police that a man called her racial slurs and as he exited the bus, threw a can of beer at the operator before displaying a knife.

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The incident occurred near the intersection of Frankford Avenue and Levick Street on Monday, July 19 at about 12:45 p.m.

“That behavior was outrageous,” said Nestel. “SEPTA’s operators who are out driving folks to and from coming to work everyday should not be subjected to behavior like that and we’re not going to tolerate it. We’re going to track that person down and we’re going to arrest him.”

The Authority is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of the suspect.

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