Criminals in unincorporated parts of Lake County might need to look over their shoulders a bit more now that authorities have a new crime-solving tool.
The Lake County Sheriff's Office is now on Facebook.
Authorities said the idea came from private and public sectors as social media gains popularity as a resource for law enforcement across the nation.
Among other posts, Lake County's Facebook page currently has real-time video showing "persons of interest" in the act of committing crimes. Some leads already have come in via Facebook, officials said, and the public is encouraged to send a message via Facebook or call and report any news tips about suspects.
"I want the criminals looking over their shoulder, knowing that we're watching," said Wayne Hunter, Lake County deputy police chief. "Instead of having 500 employees, now we've got thousands of people who are sick of crime, who want to assist in law enforcement, but had no mechanism to do that.
"I want everybody who reads this article to 'like' our page and to peruse the page periodically," Hunter said. "See what we are doing, see what we are looking for, and help us out. Help us make our community safer."
Facebook also will be used to announce road closures and any significant police activity.
The Lake County sheriff's department covers all unincorporated parts of the county from the Wisconsin boarder to Lake Cook Road and from Lake Michigan west to the McHenry County border. That is a population of about 118,000 residents.
Hunter said the Facebook page would be available for local municipalities to post as well. The department also uses Twitter and the government website to share information.
"Effective 21st Century policing mandates that we have as much contact with the community as possible," said Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran. "Facebook is a form of social media that will help us accomplish our goals of being the most accessible agency that we can be."