The criminal mind can be cunningly brilliant—or stunningly foolish. You can safely put Emma Way of the U.K. into that second category. She’s the aggressive 21-year-old motorist who allegedly hit a cyclist while out for a drive in the city of Norwich, fled the scene, and bragged about it on Twitter on Monday.
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“Definitely knocked a cyclist off his bike earlier—I have right of way he doesn’t even pay road tax! #bloodycyclists,” she tweeted.
Her admission was soon retweeted more than 300 times, inspiring angry responses and the nickname “twit and run girl” by fellow Twitter users. They also retweeted her brag to the social-media savvy Norfolk police department, who wrote back, "we have had tweets ref an RTC with a bike. We suggest you report it at a police station ASAP if not done already & then dm us." Though Way deleted her account, the ball kept rolling. The cyclist, Toby Hockley, a chef who had been taking part in an organized ride, came forward, and police said they tracked down Way and are progressing with an investigation.
On Wednesday, the police department told Yahoo! Shine there was “no further information at this time.” Way later apologized on ITV News, saying "It was a spur of the moment thing and I'm sorry," adding, "I don't want any cyclist to think I have hatred against them." Her lawyer said during the interview that she'd been interviewed by police but that no arrest had been made.
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Way, unfortunately, is not alone in bragging about wrongdoing on her smartphone. The post-privacy generation has given way to a host of accidental confessions and video-taped self-indictments. Get a load of these other social-media users outed by their own Internet mistakes:
The drunk driver: Oregon teenager Jacob Cox-Brown landed himself in the county jail after posting about his drunk-driving hit-and-run escapade on Facebook earlier this year. "Drivin drunk ... classsic ;) but to whoever's vehicle i hit i am sorry. :P" was the early-morning post that quickly led to his at-home arrest, after Facebook friends alerted the local police department, who had already been looking into the mysterious hit-and-run of a parked car.
The baby Jesus thief: A York, Pennsylvania juvenile (who has remained unnamed in the press) was charged with theft after stealing a baby Jesus statuette worth $400 from a neighbor’s front-lawn manger scene. The boy’s gaffe? Posting a photo of the swiped statuette on Facebook, where rightful owner Frank McKee spied it after combing through profiles of locals for clues.
The school-bus bullies:
Two J.W. Mitchell High School mean girls were arrested in Florida early this year after ganging up on 16-year-old Chase Christia on the school bus—one punching her repeatedly and the other filming the incident. The video wound up on Facebook, Christia’s mom alerted the police and the alleged attackers were arrested on misdemeanor charges.
The jail escapee: U.K. fugitive Craig “Lazie” Lynch couldn’t leave well enough alone after escaping a minimum security prison in Suffolk, where he was serving time for burglary. Nope—he famously ended a four-month manhunt in 2010 after taunting authorities by posting photos of himself on the run, including one in which he’s holding a Christmas turkey and flipping the bird with the other. His antics, predictably, led to his recapture. But it also made him an Internet sensation briefly, attracting 40,000 fans to his Facebook page and spawning fansites, T-shirts and a tribute song, “Not so Lazie.”
The copycat fugitive: Ruben J. Burgos, a Utica, New York man wanted for criminal contempt and aggravated harassment of his ex-girlfriend, decided to play a virtual game of cat-and-mouse with police in 2011. Perhaps inspired by “Lazie” Lynch, he posted "Catch me if you can. I'm in Brooklyn” on his Facebook page, then upped the ante by shooting a video of himself walking into an NYPD station, and posting that, too. It didn’t take authorities long to find him. "He told us via Facebook to come and get him and we did,” Utica police Sgt. Steve Hauck told the New York Daily News at the time.
The identity-thieving foodies: Nathaniel Troy Maye and Tiwanna Tenise Thomason pleaded guilty to identity theft in early May after they were busted trying to sell hundreds of thousands of stolen means of identification, meant to help prepare false tax returns, to a police informant during a meeting at a Morton’s Steakhouse in Fort Lauderdale. The informant then matched evidence containing Troy Maye’s name with an Instagram photo of a Morton’s mac-and-cheese meal he’d snapped—which just happened to have a time and date stamp that matched that of the threesome’s steakhouse meeting. The match-up led to their arrests.
The cyber stalker: After hacking into the email accounts of 19 women, stealing naked or partially nude photos of them and then hacking into their Facebook pages to post the images as their new profile photos, Joseph Bernard Campbell of Florida was caught—through Facebook, naturally. Campbell, who knew many of the women, pleaded guilty to federal charges of cyberstalking and unauthorized access to a computer in 2011.
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