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4/10/2009
02:51 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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Webcam Captures Burglars

The Internet gets plenty of blame for facilitating crimes, but it deserves at least as much credit for solving them. Consider the case of 43-year-old Jeanne Thomas of Boynton Beach, Florida, who was at work in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, watching her home through a live video feed from a desktop Webcam, when she saw two intruders enter her house.

The Internet gets plenty of blame for facilitating crimes, but it deserves at least as much credit for solving them. Consider the case of 43-year-old Jeanne Thomas of Boynton Beach, Florida, who was at work in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, watching her home through a live video feed from a desktop Webcam, when she saw two intruders enter her house.Thomas's home had been burglarized in October, explained Stephanie Slater, a spokesperson for the Boynton Beach Police Department. That was what prompted her to install a $250 Webcam capable of live Internet streaming.

According to an affidavit filed by Boynton Beach police officer Jason Llopis, Thomas immediately contacted the police.

Upon arriving at Thomas's home, officers confronted and arrested two male suspects who were found to have latex gloves, a backpack and a screwdriver in their possession.

One of the suspects directed officers to a nearby residence and identified two people there as accomplices in the burglary.

"At the station, all four defendants provided post-Miranda statements confessing their involvement in the case," the affidavit states. "...Based on the aforementioned information, all four defendants were charged with burglary of a dwelling and attempted grand theft. The four were processed and later turned over to Palm Beach County Jail."

The Boynton Beach Police Department has posted the video recording of the burglary to YouTube. The Smoking Gun has posted mug shots of the suspects and an audio recording of Thomas's 911 call.

The Boynton Beach Police Department also had help from the Internet in a car theft case on Monday.

David Povio of Port St. Lucie, Florida was considering the purchase of a 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS 396 that he found on Craigslist. He became suspicious when the seller of the vehicle, which had no engine and no transmission, told him it had been abandoned.

According to the Boynton Beach Police Department, Povio went to the location where the seller said he had found the car, looked up the property owner's name on the Internet, and contact him about the car.

The man contacted, Carlo Avolio, told Povio that the car and a trailer had been stolen from his property earlier that day.

Avolio then contacted the seller of the car and, posing as a potential buyer, arranged to look at the vehicle. He brought the police with him and they arrested seller, charging him with grand theft auto, burglary, and dealing in stolen property.

"In these two cases, the Internet played an integral part in solving the crime," said Slater.

Update: Logitech public relations informs me that the camera in question "was actually recorded by one of Logitech's digital video security cameras, not a webcam." You can see for yourself on the company's Video Security Systems page, under the "Webcams + Communications" section.

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