Hell broke out in the afternoon of May 30, as in other U.S. cities in Philadelphia, when peaceful protests against Black Lives Matter (BLM) resulted in the smashing of shop windows, looting and arson, including the flaring of two Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) Cars.
On Wednesday, a 33-year-old woman from Philadelphia was accused of allegedly lighting these cars after the FBI tracked them down via a series of online clues that show how easy we are to find, whether we are criminals or someone who markets or should be tracked.
Namely: her protest t-shirt that the FBI matched one sold on the Etsy online marketplace; Social media handles; a tattoo of a stylized peace sign on her right forearm; and a Vimeo video showing a woman who matches her description and removed a burning piece of wooden police barricade from a car and pushed it through another's window.
It is worth noting that the FBI and the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) have a tattoo recognition program called Tatt-C (also known as Tattoo Recognition Challenge) that involves creating an open tattoo database for automatic recognition in training software Tattoos. However, the FBI did not mention that this database, or its plethora of facial images, was used to locate the alleged arsonist.
It sounds like the investigators don't have to resort to anything special. The clues that led to a suspect were much easier to find. The investigators claim that the arsonist was 33-year-old Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal from Philadelphia.
On the same day of the protest and subsequent uprising, he saw a live air news feed from a helicopter that covered the fire that devoured the first car, according to an affidavit by FBI special agent Joseph Carpenter.
The video shows a white woman in a blue t-shirt and jeans wearing a brown / green backpack, gray gloves, a multi-colored mask and black boots. She entered the frame from above, grabbed a burning piece of barricade and set the second car on fire. Carpenter says the second car – an SUV – went up in flames within minutes.
Carpenter said in the affidavit that he was next looking for a copy of the live newsfeed footage taken by the FBI in Philadelphia. The FBI's Philadelphia Public Affairs Officer (PAO) couldn't find the news clip using open source methods, but Carpenter said he found a similar aerial clip that depicted the same scene with the white woman. He said the FBI's video freezes immediately when the woman grabs the burning wood so that the agents can determine their race, gender, clothing, and accessories.
A few days later, the Department of Homeland Security sent a video that its agents found on Vimeo. According to Carpenter, the Vimeo video shows exactly what the other videos showed: a white woman who sets fire to a police SUV.
The next stop on Carpenter's internet search for the arsonist led him to Instagram. He found pictures of a woman throwing a burning object at the first car – a limousine – that was set to light. The Instagram account holder gave the office more photos he took the same day. Several portrayed what appeared to be the same woman and threw a burning object at a police car with graffiti on it.
One of the photos showed the woman moving away from the limousine after being set on fire. The picture shows them with the same backpack as the videos:
Enlarging and cropping the image showed a tattoo of a stylized peace sign on her right forearm. The FBI received approximately 500 photos from an amateur photographer who documented the protest and riots. Some of the photos show the woman without the colorful mask on her face, which she wears in videos and other photos. A photo taken from the front showed that she was wearing safety glasses and a t-shirt that said:
KEEP THE IMMIGRANTS, DEPORT THE RACISTS
The photo also shows them wearing protective gloves, which Carpenter said are known as flame retardant gloves. This is another indication that the woman depicted in these pictures "had the intention and intent to undertake activities that could possibly injure her hands and / or eyes, including arson".
These are the clues and where the FBI found them. The next step was to find out who that woman was.
How do you recognize someone from a T-shirt?
The FBI has tracked down the woman's t-shirt: it is sold on the Etsy marketplace for homemade and other items. You can find t-shirts with the same inscription on Amazon, but there was one in particular on Etsy that matched the font and style of the font on the alleged arsonist's t-shirt. From the list of t-shirts, the FBI checked the comments of the buyers of the t-shirt. One of them, who left on March 24, came from a user who gave a 5 star rating and said the shipping was fast – "Thank you!"
This user profile was publicly available and showed that the user was in Philadelphia. The user name from the URL of the Etsy profile is displayed as "Alleycatlore". The next step, according to Carpenter, was to search online for the username, which led investigators to a user on Poshmark – a real-time mobile fashion marketplace based on real-time social experiences – who was nicknamed "lore-elisabeth".
When searching for "Lore Elisabeth" in Philadelphia, a website and LinkedIn profile were returned for someone named "Lore Elisabeth" who appears to be a massage therapist. Videos have been released at the company she works for, one of which shows a woman with a tattoo on her forearm that seems to match that shown in photos and videos of the arsonist.
On the website of the massage company was a phone number for a Lore Elisabeth, which in turn led to an address, a date of birth and a photo of the Blumenthal Ministry of Motor Vehicles. In the meantime, the Etsy seller gave investigators details of the user who had bought two T-shirts: a small, pink-colored shirt and a medium-sized, light blue: the colored T-shirt worn by the arsonist.
We are all very findable
TL; DR: A long trail of breadcrumbs led to the alleged arsonist. We should all recognize these crumbs because many of us leave them every time we go online or go out the door.
When we get involved in social media, we leave these crumbs. If we freeze our images from surveillance cameras, law enforcement and amateur photographers in videos and photos, we leave more crumbs. The same applies if these images are published on social media photo sharing websites. Have you registered a car on your behalf? A driver's license with your photo and address?
They are all bread crumbs. If law enforcement wants to find a suspect, it knows where to find those traces.
If Blumenthal is convicted of arson, she will seek a maximum sentence of 80 years, followed by three years' release under supervision, and a fine of up to $ 500,000. However, maximum rates are rarely given.