A woman who allegedly burned police cars during a riot in Pennsylvania was tracked down by law enforcement using Etsy, Instagram, and phone records.
Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal, 33, was charged with the arson of two Philadelphia Police Department vehicles amid civil unrest following peaceful protests on May 30.
“Torching a police car has nothing to do with peaceful protest or any legitimate message. It is a violent and despicable act that will be prosecuted in this District to the fullest extent of the law,” U.S. Attorney William McSwain said in a statement.
“Anybody who engaged in such acts can stand by to put your hands behind your back and head to federal prison. We are coming for you.”
FBI Agent Michael Driscoll said Blumenthal went to the protest prepared to destroy property.
She faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
According to a criminal complaint, investigators obtained video footage and photographs, including pictures from Instagram, showing a white female shoving a flaming piece of wood through the rear window of a police car before using the same piece to set a second police vehicle on fire.
In addition to jeans, a backpack, grey gloves, a mask, and black boots, the woman was wearing a blue t-shirt with the words “Keep the Immigrants, Deport the Racists” emblazoned across the front. She also had distinctive tattoos on her arms.
The FBI found the same shirt being sold by an store on Etsy, a website specializing in handmade and unique items. One user who left a review for the store selling the shirt displayed Philadelphia as their location.
Internet searches for the username led to a Poshmark user with the name “lore-elisabeth.” Poshmark is a mobile fashion marketplace where users can buy and sell used clothes, shoes, and accessories.
A search of Lore Elisabeth turned up a website and LinkedIn profile for an individual employed as a massage therapist. In one of the videos on the site, a woman with that name is shown with a distinctive tattoo on her arm matching that seen in the arson suspect.
The massage therapy website listed a phone number for Lore Elisabeth. Department of Homeland Security records for the phone number listed her address in Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania records showed a driver’s license photograph for the woman.
Agents later received records from the Etsy sale, including the fact that two of the blue shirts were sent to the same address listed for Blumenthal.
Blumenthal was arrested and charged with knowing, intentional, or malicious damage and destruction and attempt, by means of a fire, to create substantial risk of injury.
“Masses of people took to the streets of Philadelphia on May 30, exercising their right to peacefully protest,” Driscoll of the FBI said. “They were there to send a message in which they truly believed. Sprinkled among the crowd, though, were agitators, whose sole purpose was to commit crimes and cause chaos.”