Looking to protect your home from burglars? It turns out, there's an app for that, and a Bellevue woman is sharing her story to prove that it works.
Melissa Hasley and her husband initially installed a home surveillance system made by Dropcam so that they could keep an eye on their two dogs.
Dropcam is a wi-fi video camera that allows you to view the images being recorded from your computer or smartphone. The system will also alert you via text anytime movement is detected inside your home.
"Everybody always gave me a hard time that I have web cams to look at my dogs all day," Hasley said.
Then, earlier this month while vacationing out of state, Melissa caught something unexpected on-camera.
"It's 5:30 a.m. Seattle time, and I pulled up my Dropcam to see my dogs and see what they're doing, and I see this masked guy," she said. "It kinda took me a minute to go, is this really for real?"
The real-time video showed a burglar rifling through her garage, seemingly unaware that his actions were being recorded.
Hasley immediately called her neighbor, who was due at the house any minute to check on the dogs.
"I was concerned about my neighbor walking in more than anything," she said.
With the help of her neighbor, Hasley was able to get police to her home even before the burglar left. Officers apparently startled him, because he dropped several bags of stolen items behind and ran out a back door.
Hasley says she was relieved to get back the stolen items - mostly small electronics - but since an arrest hasn't yet been made, she wanted to warn her neighbors.
She spread the word online using social media, and encouraged her neighbors to install Dropcams or similar surveillance cameras of their own.
One of them did, and just a few blocks away and a few days later, that homeowner also caught a burglar in the act, on-camera.
Both videos have been turned over to Bellevue Police.
Hasley hopes it sends a message to whoever is committing these crimes.
"Don't come back, you're being recorded," she said. "Not only can I see what my dogs are doing when they're on the furniture and shouldn't be, but I can catch a guy in the act."
A spokesperson for Dropcam says burglars often steal the cameras in an attempt to destroy that video evidence. What they don't realize is that the video and images are still stored online.
The system Melissa and her husband bought cost about $150, an investment she says was worth every penny.
Bellevue Police say home security apps like Dropcam are becoming more and more common, especially during these summer months when so many homeowners are vacationing, and leaving their homes unattended.
If you know you're going to be out of town for several days, Bellevue Police recommend leaving a radio, television and/or light on, and ask a neighbor to periodically check your house.
They say timers on interior and exterior lights are also effective, but suggest you vary the times they are turned on and off. Police say asking a neighbor to remove newspapers from your doorstep each day can make a difference as well.