Escaped Prisoner Left Trail on Facebook, Daring Cops to Catch Him

Escaped prisoner detailed life on the lam through social networking site.

Jan. 2, 2009— -- Three months ago, Craig "Lazie" Lynch, 28, escaped from prison in eastern England.

He went on the lam -- and then he went online.

Soon after his escape, Lynch joined Facebook.

He used the site to taunt the police, daring them to catch him. He detailed his scrumptious steak dinners and debated plans for New Year's Eve parties. He posted a photo of himself holding a "wanted" sign with his own name on it.

In another photo, he posed shirtless and made a crude gesture directed at the authorities.

"I ain't handin' myself in," he posted, "Why am I going to do their job for them?"

Later, he wrote about evading the police and posted, "They think this is going to cripple me, the FOOLS!"

His brash, some say foolish defiance has won him at least 37,000 fans on his Facebook fan page. Someone wrote a song in his honor and posted it on YouTube.

As his notoriety grew he only became bolder, even calling in to a British television station to grant an interview on his Facebook fame.

"They can triangulate this call," he told Channel 5 News. "But it is no good because I am always on the move."

He said he spent as much as 20 hours a day on Facebook, mainly to accommodate his fans in different time zones around the world.

He said that it all started for the same reason most people join Facebook.

"I started to get in contact with people that are from home," he said. "I'm taunting them now, and I've turned it around, but it wasn't genuinely like that from the beginning."

Lynch was serving the last of a seven-year sentence for aggravated burglary at Hollesley Bay Prison.

The facility is an open prison that is designed to help inmates prepare for re-entering the real world. They are allowed to check in and out daily, but must report back each night.

Authorities said there was nothing spectacular about his escape. He simply walked out. At least four others did the same thing last year. It is so easy to leave the facility it has earned the nickname, "Holiday Bay."

Fugitive Surprised by Online Fame

Critics of the open prison system in the United Kingdom say that is a problem.

Those critical of Lynch say he's doing a disservice to the men and women who don't abuse the open prison system in an attempt to return to normal life as soon as possible.

"The fact that he is taunting the police is really just childish. He is just making himself look like an idiot," said John O'Connor, a former commander with Scotland Yard.

Many Facebook users agree. A slew of "Anti-Lynch" or "Hater" groups, as he calls them, have emerged on Facebook. Members bemoan the fact that a criminal is becoming an online celebrity, a fact that puzzles even Lynch himself.

"I'm genuinely surprised and shocked," he told Channel 5. "I mean, at the end of the day, I got convicted of second degree burglary, an offense which I'm not exactly proud of. And I'm surprised that people actually want to follow a burglar, you know?"

O'Connor added that Lynch's Bonnie-and-Clyde-like reputation is not warranted. As a low-level criminal who is not deemed a threat to the community, O'Connor said it is not likely the police are going too far out of their way to find him.

Authorities have said the police are actively searching for Lynch, but there has been no announcement of any kind of manhunt or similar operation. Most often in such cases, the "escapee" eventually makes a misstep and is caught in an obvious fashion.

Taunting the police, O'Connor said, will only cause Lynch trouble when he is brought back into custody.

"He is also hurting the people around him, his friends and family who have probably assisted him or have harbored him, which is another criminal offense," O'connor said. "It is his own future he is ruining."

In fact, at one point Lynch announced he would turn himself in to avoid giving authorities the satisfaction of catching him.

He is the father of two small children and admitted to Channel 5, "At the end of the day it's my kids and my cocker spaniel that are going to suffer."

This week, Lynch's profile page was taken down and Facebook blocked him from posting to his own fan site.

For Craig "Lazie" Lynch, a life without Facebook may be a fate worse than prison.