Police Using YouTube to Catch Criminals, Chris Shaw Reports

(HAMILTON, OH) -- Cops examine evidence and pound the pavement And when that doesn't lead them to bad guys they go on-line.

In a single month YouTube.com can get 35 million visits.  And there investigators are finding quite a few amateur crime fighters.

As FOX19's Chris Shaw reports detectives are now hoping the website leads them to one of the area's most wanted men.

In this day and digital age wanted posters might as well be an antique.

Upgraded to video they're easily posted on the internet and in an instant available to millions.

YouTube, the site made famous by the cute and curious is all of a sudden very popular with cops trying to track down criminals.

"One of the ways we thought of, was youtube" A site Hamilton Police Detective Mark Hayes, quite frankly, had never been to before.

But after spending almost two years trying to track down a wanted suspect he was ready to try anything.

"It's a very bad case, the crime was very heinous, and we want to catch this guy as much or more than we want to catch anybody else that we're investigating."

So he took the department's video camera and went to work.

"Alfredo Lopez cruz, the man known as mario, his whereabouts today are unknown."

The video, in under four minutes, re-tells the violent crime Cruz is accused of.

"Mario grabbed the girl, and her bicycle. Dragged her into the house, pulled her upstairs into his bedroom, as she was kicking and screaming. And over the course of the next several hours, raped her several times."

It's a story and a face people in our area know well.

But investigators are convinced Cruz has left town.

"This is one of the few cases we have, that we need a national audience."

An audience that's already proved it can help find fugitives.

"Hello, my name is Sargent Michael Bent with Aventura Police Department and today we're asking for your help in solving an open homicide case that happened in our city."

From Florida to Canada police have posted mug shots or security camera video on you tube and found suspected murderers.

More than five thousand people watched this video that helped a Massachusetts Police Department catch suspected credit card theives.

YouTube, Hayes says, is no match for old fashioned police work.

But used in a select number of situations he hopes it can be a tool.

"We've had a lot of hits on the site, so a lot of people are seeing it. We're just hoping that someone sees it, knows who he is, knows where he's at...they call us or the local police, and we can arrest him."

In about a month...the Hamilton Police video has been viewed about 35-hundred times.

FOX19.com: Chris Shaw