Social media helps Akron police catch serial burglar

AKRON, Ohio - The powerful reach of social media helped Akron police catch a serial burglary suspect this week. 

Police said the man confessed to more than a dozen break-ins and got away with thousands of dollars.

The crook's face was caught on camera multiple times. That was the key to solving a rash of break-ins that started Sept. 27 and continued until this past Monday. 

Akron police put surveillance images on Facebook and residents gave the cops a name to go with the face—33-year-old Paul Barna.

"He obviously doesn't care about how many other bars, how many other people that he puts their livelihood at risk," Cheryl Carpenter, owner of Windsor Pub, told News 5.

Barna pried open a kitchen door, broke into multiple machines, getting away with thousands of dollars, including cash Carpenter would have given to charity. 

Police said the case illustrates how valuable social media can be for law enforcement.

"This is an excellent example of how social media is very helpful to law enforcement," said Akron police Capt. Dan Zampelli. "We put that information out on Facebook and the citizens were able to come forward."

Police said Barna was caught and confessed to 13 break-ins over the last three weeks. Nine of the break-ins were in Akron. Four were in Springfield Township. 

In one case, he got away with $1,400 from an ATM at Mr. Spock's Lounge. 

And, police said he was out on bond for identity theft when the break-ins happened.

"He had pled guilty to that and he was awaiting sentencing on that," said Capt. Zampelli. "While he was awaiting sentencing, he's broken into numerous bars."

"That just makes me angry," Carpenter said. "He needs to be off the street and people that do this kind of thing don't need to be tolerated. They need to be punished."

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