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Facebook boast tips cops to speeding motorcyclist

August 29, 2011 | 12:45 pm

Justin West on Facebook
 You can run, but don't count on hiding in cyberspace.

That's what 19-year-old Justin West found out in Yakima County, Wash., after he reportedly took a wild motorcycle ride through sand and brush to elude police -- but not for long.

A word to the wise: The cops are on Facebook.

According to the Yakima County Sheriff's Department, a young man was spotted Friday evening driving his off-road motorcycle in a residential area just outside of town. When officers in a patrol car tried to stop him, the motorcyclist took off at a high rate of speed along the Rosa Canal ditch, leaving the police car in the dust.

But that wasn't the end of the story.

A few hours later, the Sheriff's Department received an anonymous tip that West was bragging on his Facebook page about eluding police officers in the same area in which the errant cyclist earlier had been seen.

"This officer had a Facebook account, he logged into his Facebook account, viewed this other young man's profile, and this guy had indeed posted a couple of statements about how he had just outrun a police officer on his motorcycle," Stu Graham, chief of the department's criminal division, said in an interview.

The officer, Deputy Chris Gray, ran West's name through another database, came up with an address and showed up at West's house at 4 a.m. with a search warrant.

He "cooperated" once he was shown a printout of his Facebook page, the department's news release says.

Graham said West has been cited for reckless driving and other traffic infractions that could theoretically lead, in the worst case, to a license suspension or jail time, but more likely a fine.

West didn't respond immediately to a request to talk about the case. By Monday morning, his Facebook page didn't appear to have any bragging about eluding cops, though it documents his extensive Moto-X activities, polls his friends about whether he should keep his mohawk or shave it off, and has lots of pictures of him and his cycle in various scary poses.

It also has a brief status update from Friday night: "Time to ride!" it says.

In the Sheriff's Department his news release, Gray includes a bit of advice: "Please be aware that there is little privacy in social networking," he says. "Intelligent use of media is suggested."


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Photo: Screenshot from Justin West's Facebook page. Credit: Facebook