To catch a thief

The Tinder for crime-fighting might just be Tinder

Well this is unusual.

Buildzoom, an application for finding home contractors, is turning to the crowds to ID a woman who has robbed it multiple times. Specifically, the crowds on Tinder.

The Tinder profile Buildzoom created for its burglar, using an image from the security camera
The Tinder profile Buildzoom created for its burglar, using an image from the security camera
Camera footage caught a pretty good shot of the woman’s face, so Buildzoom turned her into a Tinder profile. Founder David Petersen photoshopped a reward message on top of the image that said “I rob offices in SF. $5000 reward for identifying me.” He told me police gave him permission to do so after their other leads went dead. Although he only created the Tinder profile yesterday, he said it has already generated a few leads.

When asked where the idea to use Tinder came from, Petersen said, “I was trying to figure out, ‘How can we get this face in front of people?'” Most might turn to Twitter for that, but Petersen had already tapped the Twitter mob. He thought a face-focused app, like Tinder, might be another solution.

Other businesses in the area had been robbed by the same woman. The companies shared a similar digital lock for the door, which this person figured out how to hack. Petersen estimates that ten of them have been hit, and the robber has walked out with tablets and Apple computers. “She left behind the PCs, which we all felt was funny,” Petersen says.

This isn’t the first time that the crowds have been used to identify a criminal. In September Twitter users crowdsourced the identification of suspects who attacked a gay couple in Philadelphia. Crowdsourcing criminals can also go awry: Reddit users famously “exposed” the wrong Boston bombers and the picture went viral.

But this might be the first time anyone’s attempted to find a criminal via Tinder. I couldn’t find any other examples online of this happening. I reached out to the dating app company to fact-check if this is the first.