May 20, 2013 at 6:57 PM ET
When a U.K. police station posted a fugitive's mugshot on its Facebook page, the cheeky lad wrote in from his personal account: "Catch me if u can."
"In the past it's taken us several weeks to get a hold of him," Inspector Umer Khan, who runs the department's Facebook page, told NBC News.
But the very next day, the runner, 19-year-old Sam Greenwood, was spotted and arrested by a squad car out on patrol.
Before the police had deleted Greenwood's mug from Facebook — standard procedure once a perp had been caught — the shot had gathered 82 "Likes." "Underneath that thread there were comments from his mates, saying 'Go on Sam,' and other bravado-type comments," Khan said. In response, once they'd arrested him, Khan replied to his note on police department's official page: "Caught you. Do not pass Go, do not collect £200, go straight to jail."
Some Facebook readers from the area (and abroad) were tickled by the exchange and Monopoly reference, Khan said. "A lot of people have sent messages saying it brought a smile to them, and showed that the police have a sense of humor."
But at least one commenter called the retort unprofessional. Khan replied that "the Monopoly-themed comment was a spur of the moment thing" that was removed soon after it was posted. "I said to that, it's a fair comment and it's constructive," he explained to NBC News. So even though he deleted his own words, Khan has chosen to leave up the critical commentary, and is letting people "have their opinion on the issue."
The aspiring Frank Abagnale (Remember that Leonardo DiCaprio movie?), Greenwood, was arrested in January for a driving infraction, and served four months at the Young Offenders Institute. He attracted the attention of the police when he skipped out on appointments at the Rochdale Probation Service and broke the conditions of his release.
GMP Rochdale North, like many police departments in the U.K. and U.S. is active on Facebook and often asks for the public help looking for wanted people. The page, which got its start only last fall, is manned by Inspector Khan — which explains why posts are sometimes more personal than other official accounts — all the way down to the frequent "Inspector's Blog" contributions. The department also posts updates on YouTube, Twitter, Flickr and Pinterest.