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Sep 6, 2016 5:37 PM

Social media plays vital role in arrest of Gilley's tip thief in Portsmouth


PORTSMOUTH - It’s the theft seen ‘round the world, even on ABC Nightly News. A young man picking up his burger at the iconic and beloved Gilley’s Diner in Portsmouth.

As seen on video, he takes food in one hand and he puts his other hand in the tip jar, taking the cash while the clerk isn’t looking.

Gilley’s security video camera caught it all on tape and turned it over to Portsmouth Police.

“We don’t know who the person is so we solicit the help of the general public,” said Captain Frank Warchol of the Portsmouth Police Department prior to the suspect's arrest.

Within hours the video had gone viral, reaching 350-thousand people and being shared 3,300 times. It’s been viewed by more people than any other posting from the Portsmouth Police Department’s social media sites.

Simultaneously, the nasty public comments started coming in on the police department’s Facebook page.

“Some of it can be pretty cruel. Somebody said ‘I hope he goes to prison, or to jail for life,’” added Captain Warchol.

Nearly a week after the theft, 21-year-old Christopher McPhee of Dover posed for his mug shot after turning himself into police. He faces a misdemeanor charge for allegedly stealing $60.

No one at Gilley’s wanted to talk with us but referred us to their Facebook page where it states they didn’t wish for the footage and information to be put out on social media.

The statement concludes: “We are very concerned and upset by some of the comments on PPD. We ask that you not judge this person based on one action because we don’t intend to.”

“The public shaming. That’s the world we live in now. They go right for the jugular for anything they don’t agree with. This day and age there’s a camera everywhere and you should always assume you’re on camera,” warned the Portsmouth Police Captain.


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