Online detectives ID alleged thieves

COLUMBIANA – A little online investigating by local Facebook users helped lead city police to the men believed to be responsible for stealing a New Waterford man’s car Wednesday.

Police Officer Richard Whitfield, who is handling the investigation, said Friday arrest warrants have been issued for Matthew Faulkner, 21, and George Faulkner Jr., 26, both of East Palestine.

He said the department was led to the Faulkners after Dalton Lappert sought help through is own Facebook page.

Lappert was attempting to sell his 1996 Pontiac Firebird and had reportedly met the Faulkners at the 7&14 Truck Stop in Columbiana Wednesday morning. He allowed them to take the car for a test drive, and when they didn’t return 20 minutes later, he reported it stolen.

Lappert didn’t know their names at the time and later posted on Facebook pictures of his car and descriptions of the men.

“He did some leg work,” Whitfield said of Lappert’s attempt to help police identify them.

The officer said that within minutes the Facebook post had several shares and comments from people who had seen the car and who knew the men’s identity based on Lappert’s description.

It was Lappert’s memory of the men’s tattoos that helped people recognize them and lead him to their own personal Facebook profiles, Whitfield added.

Police were able to determine their names after Lappert reportedly confirmed the picture on the profile was of the men he met at the truck stop.

Pennsylvania state police found the car in Darlington Township the same day it was reported stolen, but the Faulkners have yet to be found.

Whitfield said the men are last known to have lived somewhere along state Route 14 in East Palestine.

They are each being charged with one count of stealing a car, a fourth-degree felony.