Suburban Detroit police hope squirrel mug shot helps crack nut theft case

By Serena Maria Daniels

DETROIT (Reuters) – Police in the Detroit suburb of Shelby Township are hoping a social media post about a felonious squirrel will help authorities locate some 28,000 pounds of stolen snack nuts.

Alas, the mock mug shot of the rodent, posted on the department’s Facebook page on Tuesday, has not produced any leads on the actual culprit, Detective Lieutenant Jason Schmittler said. (https://www.facebook.com/ShelbyTwpPolice?fref=nf)

The nuts, which were on a parked tractor trailer, went missing sometime during the weekend of June 27. Authorities found the rig abandoned in Detroit on July 1 but about 28,000 pounds of packaged walnuts and other snack nuts – worth an estimated $128,000 – were missing.

Police officials hoped that through the power of social media and cute animals, the squirrel wanted poster would result in leads that would help crack the case. It attracted a rush of media attention and was shared more than 400 times on Facebook, it did not produce any credible leads.

“Obviously the squirrel attracted some attention but not the types of calls that we were hoping for,” Schmittler said.

Shelby Township is about 30 miles north of Detroit.

Deputy Chief Mark Coil told Reuters the squirrel wanted poster is the latest example of the department’s efforts to increase its social media presence. It follows a trend in policing throughout the United States to use social media platforms to be more approachable to a public that in recent months has been inundated with stories and video images of police brutality.

“At the end of the day, this is just a new spin on how we do an old business,” Coil said.

The department emphasized in its Facebook post that the squirrel is not a suspect and it was just a picture used to draw attention. “Please do not call in squirrel sightings,” the police said in the posting.

(Reporting by Serena Maria Daniels in Detroit; Editing by Ben Klayman and Bill Trott)

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