• Social media put ‘face’ on vandals
    By David Delcore
     | August 30,2013
     

    BARRE — The wheels of justice don’t spin fast enough to keep up with Facebook, and when it comes to the case of the defiled flower box at the Cornerstone Pub & Kitchen this week it really wasn’t a fair fight.

    Rich McSheffrey, who owns the Cornerstone with partner Keith Paxman, said police weren’t even aware of the vandalism that occurred shortly before midnight Monday until he had already identified those responsible with a little help from the restaurant’s Facebook friends.

    “Social media is an awesome and unique tool,” said McSheffrey, who didn’t learn that one of the flower boxes outside his restaurant had been trashed Monday night until he got a call from his mother Wednesday morning and didn’t get around to reviewing footage from the Cornerstone’s surveillance cameras until later that evening.

    According to McSheffrey, he quickly isolated the incident and decided to post a reasonably clear image of the young man and woman who he claims walked up to the restaurant, punched one of its windows without breaking it, and ripped flowers out of a window box.

    McSheffrey’s hope was that one of the Cornerstone’s 3,000 Facebook friends would be able to identify the people in the picture he posted and be willing to share that information in exchange for a $100 gift card to the restaurant. He wasn’t disappointed.

    “We had the names in 10 minutes,” McSheffrey said, explaining his decision to do a little Facebook fishing before contacting police was an acknowledgment they had more important things to do.

    “We were hoping we could just go to them (police) with the names and save them the legwork,” he said. “It wasn’t a drive-by shooting (and) it wasn’t the crime of the century.”

    However, it was frustrating, according to McSheffrey, who said flowers aren’t free and destroying things that don’t belong to you isn’t acceptable.

    McSheffrey declined to share the names that he provided to police after receiving more than two dozen rapid responses to his Facebook post Wednesday night.

    “Over half of them were the same names,” he said.

    McSheffrey, who has since shared the names and the video footage with police, said he was stunned by the response to his original post, which was re-posted nearly 650 times and reached more than 25,000 people in less than 12 hours.

    According to McSheffrey, the response reflects a shared sense of community pride and a desire to nip bad behavior in the bud.

    “They want to see justice,” he said. “They want to see something done.”

    McSheffrey declined to disclose the names of the alleged vandals and said he would leave it to police to handle the matter. He did say he would be seeking a “no trespass” order against the two individuals.

    “Basically what we want people to know is … we’re not going to tolerate it (vandalism), … our place is surrounded with cameras and we’re not going to let people ruin our property,” he said.

    david.delcore

    @timesargus.com

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