NORTH PLAINS, Ore. — Every 20 seconds a burglary happens in the US, according to the FBI. With statistics like that, more and more families are turning to smart-home video surveillance technology, such as Ring and Arlo.
It has become a cost-effective way for homeowners to keep an eye on their property, even when they are not there. However, as Annie Domenici and her husband Chris Mullin found out, catching criminals in the act and on camera does not always end with thieves behind bars.
"It's not feeling safe and having to look over your shoulder," Domenici said. "Not having peace when you're on your own property."
The couple from Beaverton spends nearly all their free time renovating their future home on 34 acres in North Plains off Dairy Creek Road. But dreams of what is to come were put on hold when thieves broke onto their property and stole $2,000 worth of tools and equipment.
They saw the crime unfold, as it happened, from their cellphone on their Arlo smart home security camera app.
"They had a very serious intent to steal stuff and they came to do damage," Annie said.
On Tuesday, May 28 around 2:30 a.m., three burglars cut through chains on the property, broke into their mobile home and shed, and stole a nail gun, tool box, air compressor and much more. They even kicked in a newly installed $400 door that will now need to be replaced.
"Once they got everything open and organized it didn't take them very long to just pile it in and go," Domenici said.
That morning, around 3 a.m., while they were fast asleep at their current home in Beaverton, the Domenici and Mullin awoke to alerts from their motion-sensor security cameras.
"It just kept dinging and it was enough to bring me out of my sleep," Domenici said.
They immediately called police and continued to watch the thieves put more and more of their belongings into their truck. They relayed what they were seeing to police dispatch as a Washington County Sheriff’s deputy watched from in a squad car nearby the property, waiting for backup to arrive.
"We thought we had them," Domenici said.
And they almost did, but just 1 minute before officers arrived to surround the home, the thieves drove off, out of the view of law enforcement.
"All they needed was 30 seconds to get away out here. It's pitch dark. Once you get out from these lights from the mobile home, it's dark," Domenici said.
The sheriff’s office tells KGW, for his safety, the lone deputy could not confront the three criminals until other officers arrived.
Domenici says they did not realize it at the time, but the cameras were on a 20- to 30-second delay, slowing their real-time relay of information to dispatchers.
Annie said the deputy wanted to catch the crooks just as badly as she did.
"He wanted to get these guys and so his frustration and level of frustration was really high too," she said.
Although the thieves got away that night, Domenici does not fault police. She said she is thankful she and her husband put up the cameras and is confident they'll see justice.
"It's a violation and it's more important that they're held accountable because they've taken away our peace. Quite honestly, I want them to see this and take away their peace," she said. "I want them to feel the way I feel and know that people are looking for them."
Domenici said property crimes and trespassing are a common problem off Dairy Creek Road, which is why they installed the cameras in the first place.
Domenici and police have received several tips and positive online response after she posted the surveillance video on social media.
The Washington County Sheriff's Office told KGW they are working on strong leads to find these thieves and bring them in. If you have any information call the Washington County Law Enforcement Tip Line at 800-232-0594.