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FBI Uses Instagram, Etsy Review To Nab Woman Accused Of Torching Philly Cop Car
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 03: A police officer crosses his arms while observing activists gathering in protest outside the 26th Precinct on June 3, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Protests continue to erupt in cities throughout the country over George Floyd, the black man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images

One accused arsonist learned the hard way that if you’re going to wear your new shirt to torch a cop car, you may want to think twice about leaving a product review for your new threads.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Philadelphia Police Department used Instagram, LinkedIn, and a photo left in a review on the e-commerce site Etsy to locate and arrest a woman shown hurling what appears to be “flaming debris” into a Philadelphia Police Department vehicle during a May 30th protest, ostensibly honoring the memory of George Floyd, a black man who died while in the custody of Minneapolis police.

According to NBC Philadelphia, “Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal, 33, faces two counts of felony arson … She is accused of setting the police cars alight during the first day of protests in Philadelphia, which began peacefully but gave way to mass looting and destruction as the day wore on.”

Blumenthal was pictured gearing up to toss flaming garbage into one police car and then again battering a second vehicle with a piece of lumber. In the photos, she is wearing a shirt that says, “Keep the immigrants, deport the racists,” and is sporting several visible tattoos.

An eagle-eyed FBI agent spotted both Blumenthal’s slogan shirt and her “peace sign” tattoo in footage aired on local news stations.

“FBI Special Agent Joseph Carpenter said in an affidavit of probable cause that he first saw Blumenthal holding a burning piece of a police barricade and shoving it into a Philadelphia Police Department SUV while watching aerial footage of the protests on the news,” the NBC affiliate reported. “A video posted to Vimeo and sent to the FBI by the Department of Homeland Security also allegedly captured the moment.”

A Google search turned up Blumenthal’s shirt as a sale item on Etsy, an e-commerce website devoted largely to selling handmade crafts and vintage items. Lo and behold, a shopper from Philadelphia, with the username “alleycatlore” had posted a five-star review for the shirt that read, ”Fast shipping, thanks very much!”

“Having found a person from Philadelphia, agents then searched ‘alleycatlore’ on Google and with it found another online profile, ‘Lore-Elisabeth’ on the online fashion store Poshmark,” a local Fox affiliate added. “With a new search term ‘Lore Elisabeth Philadelphia,’ law enforcement officials found a LinkedIn profile for a woman who is a massage therapist in Philadelphia.”

That LinkedIn profile led to a website, which featured a video showing a suspiciously familiar woman with a peace sign tattoo giving a massage. That site had a phone number and other contact information for Blumenthal.

“Blumenthal was charged with the arson of two police vehicles and is currently in federal custody,” Fox Philadelphia reported late Wednesday.

The FBI says the system of tracking users through social media is called “open source intelligence” and can be very successful, particularly when suspects are of an age where social media use is ubiquitous.

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