ABC News’ Daniel Rapaport reports:
While vacationing in Sun Valley, Idaho, a Washington couple watched as every homeowner’s worst nightmare unfolded: their house being robbed, live on an iPhone.
“I saw an alert on my phone. I thought it was my neighbor because my neighbor was babysitting my dogs,” Melissa, who did not want her last name used, told ABC affiliate KOMO. “It’s 5:30 in the morning. So I pull up the app and I see this guy out here and it’s definitely not my neighbor.”
The couple saw it live on Melissa’s phone July 7 as a burglar made his way through their Bellevue, Wash., home.
It was possible thanks to a $150 Dropcam camera they originally installed to keep an eye on their dogs. Melissa told ABCNews.com that the camera ended up saving her and her husband a few thousand dollars in stolen items.
“Initially, we got the cameras to watch the dogs,” Melissa said. “We had just got a puppy at the time and [purchased the camera] because it was a fancy, new piece of technology that could be run from an app – which my husband loved.”
The camera was linked through a WiFi connection to a mobile application that sent her an alert any time motion was detected. It allowed the couple to watch as the intruder browsed through expensive bicycles and gathered valuables.
“I immediately called my neighbor and said, ‘Don’t go into my house!’ She thought I was joking with her,” Melissa told KOMO. “I said, ‘No, I’m serious. There’s somebody in my house right now.’”
The neighbor quickly alerted police, who arrived as the burglar was leaving. Though no arrests were made, all stolen items were recovered after the intruder made a clumsy escape.
“Backpacks and stuff went flying, so luckily we got all our stuff back,” Melissa said. “And I got a really good story out of it. A very creepy picture.”
Bellevue Police hope the video, which has been posted online by Dropcam, will lead to an arrest in the coming days.
A police spokeswoman said cheap, accessible technology such as the camera can assist authorities in catching criminals.
“I always recommend to homeowners to do what they can to protect themselves and property from bad guys without putting themselves in harm’s way,” Officer Carla Iafrate, a spokeswoman for Bellevue Police, told ABCNews.com. ”It seems more and more people are researching home video systems, which is always helpful for law enforcement.”