How Safe Is Your Home?
I have been silent for a while. We arrived in Arizona nine days ago. I spent most of last week unpacking boxes and finding homes for our possessions. I had to reorganize cabinets and closets, and now it is 99.9% complete. I have lost my inspiration for that other 0.1% to be completed. Now that I have said that, I will probably get inspired later today.
I was also silent for a while because I couldn’t think of anything new and eventful to share. Of course, in my life, that happens only for short periods of time. Yesterday proved to be a most unusual day.
About 9:30 am, I am on the phone with my grandson who is a university freshman, and it was 11:30 am in Missouri. I had just hung up from our call when Dennis said that someone is at our front door. I asked why he didn’t go answer the door, and he replied, “Not here, our home in Missouri.” So we watched on his phone security camera app of a couple at our front door. At first I wondered if this couple had an appointment to view the house. I was about to call my agent, because we need to turn off the alarm system if an agent is going to show the house.
It is nice to have technology. The cameras that picked up this couple at the front door are the very inexpensive cameras. You can buy them individually online, plug them in, and connect them to the internet. If there is any movement, it sends a text message. You can go to the app on your smartphone and see what that movement is. Usually that movement on one side of our home tends to be the clouds moving and changing of the light. We usually ignore it, if it is a windy, overcast day.
This couple stood at our door, looked in through the window, stood a little longer and then walked away, or so we thought. My first inclination was someone selling something, or at the wrong home. Our home is in a private subdivision with only about 20 homes on 3 acre lots. All of a sudden, Dennis gets notice on his phone the house alarm system was sounding and that the security company is contacting the local authorities. Now we are on high alert.
Our security cameras connected to the alarm system are different than the camera that was sending us alerts. The camera to the alarm system goes on after the alarm sounds, but we found that camera was malfunctioning. It’s nice to know we have a set of backup cameras.
Dennis went back to his phone to view the cameras and we can hear the alarm in the background, and see faintly in the distance the car in front of our house backing out of the driveway. A few minutes later, our cameras are sending him a message of activity again. He looks at it, and sees that the law enforcement officers are walking through the house very carefully looking for a possible suspect hiding out.
Finally, Dennis reached out to the officers (through these cameras). He can actually talk through them. He introduced himself and asked if they would like him to have the alarm company turn off the the blaring alarm. The officers replied that they would appreciate that. He had the alarm silenced, and we continued watching the officers as they went through the whole house room by room, and we have cameras on all the levels sending us video of them walking around.
Dennis informed them that we have a video of the two people at the front door who tripped the alarm system. Apparently, they bolted as soon as they breached the house and the alarm sounded. They never actually entered the house, because we have cameras that would have shown their movement.
The officers found the door that the would-be thieves jimmied to entered. They checked all the doors and secured them before they left. Now it was time for me to play detective. Who where these people that wanted to break into our home?
Dennis sent me the first video of the people at the door. The man, literally put his face to the window to look into the house. I stopped the video at that spot and took a screen shot on my phone. Then a few seconds later, the lady looked through the window, but a foot or two away from the door, so she was not as clear, but I once again, took a screen shot of her.
Neither person looked familiar, and it was time for my communication skills to kick into high gear. I cropped both phones to give an unclose view of these two. I took both photos and posted them on my Facebook page. I seldom post anything to be “public” because my page is only for my friends. This time I made the post public and I needed to grab everyone’s by attention posting, “***IMPORTANT — FULTON BEWARE***” I proceeded to tell what happened. I asked them to share this post, and to be aware of their surroundings. I also asked if anyone knew who these two people are. I tagged people I knew who lived in this community, along with some folks I knew a few miles away.
I have never seen anything on my Facebook page blow up before. Our home in Missouri is in a town of 12,000+ people, and in a county of 45,000. This is not a big county—it is in the country, with a lot of farms and small towns. As of this morning my post was shared 327 times and counting—just raised by 2 in the last 15 minutes!
Within ten minutes I was getting private messages and public messages from people who immediately recognized the man. His face was so clear on the video, that if you knew him, he was super easy to identify. The first two private message I got both gave me the same name. I replied and thanked them for the information. The second lady who replied had told me she called the sheriff’s department to identify him. After I thanked her, she responded back that he was actually her cousin and he really needed help. She also said she thought he has been arrested recently. Well, I had already googled his name, and found that he had been arrested in June and again in mid-October (like a week before) both for theft! So, if he is out on bail, I am hoping his bail becomes revoked and he sits in jail until his theft charges go to trial. Several others, including more relatives, posted his name openly on the thread of my original posting.
One woman identified the girl at the door, but several people came back, and replied that was definitely not that girl. Since I didn’t want that girl’s name to be spread around this little town that she was an accomplice, I removed that women’s post from the thread. The man, however, was identified over and over and over as the same person. Apparently, he is well known in the area.
One of my sons was following this story from San Francisco, and sent me a text message that he was impressed how I was able to use social media to identify this person. I told him that ever since I got my Apple watch, I felt like Dick Tracy, and thought it was time to solve a crime!
We were amazed at how quickly the man was identified. Dennis spoke to the lead investigator, and gave him the name, and then he sent to him the video and the still shots of the two. About an hour later, Dennis received a call from the officer stating that he recognized both people. They were folks he has encountered before, and he knew where they lived and would be going out to find them.
I was getting text messages from my neighbors who were quite upset with what happened. One was out of town and was concerned about his wife and children. It really made us all aware of how vulnerable we are to crime.
Several people posted on my Facebook page requesting information of our security system because they were amazed how clear these photos were, and how quickly everything happened. So, I will give a shout out to what we use. We have Simply Safe for our alarm system. We used to have a different well known security company, but their fees were extremely high, and they were really weird to deal with, so Dennis gave them 30 days notice that he was cancelling them from the 9 years of their service. They continued billing. Dennis called them and said we cancelled, and they stated we never gave them notice. Dennis had the email from this company confirming receipt of the cancellation 30 days in advance. They still ignored that. Dennis finally sent an email to the state Attorney General, and copied the aforementioned company, and they finally walked away. You know, they say the way to know if a religion is a cult is how they don’t want to let you out if you want to voluntarily leave. Well, this well known security company must be some crazy cult!
Back to the system. We have installed Simply Safe, which doesn’t need wiring throughout the house. It’s a simple online system, and all our doors are alarmed. There are also cameras, but our best cameras were the Wyze cameras. They are bought individually online, and are very inexpensive. You just plug them in and point them where you want them. You set them up through their app, and it sends a text message if it detects movement, and you can immediately go the app and see what is going on. Now those cameras don’t alarm, but they are a great addition to the alarm system. We also have these cameras in our Arizona home, and last year when the landscape people were doing our backyard, we watched the work being done from those cameras while we were in Missouri.
I am really glad nothing bad happened at our home. Most of our belongings are in Arizona, so had these thieves made it into the house, they would have been greatly disappointed, unless they are stealing beds and couches! I am glad the community was put on notice to be aware of their surroundings and at least get cameras in their homes.
I really hope that not only will justice be done, especially for this young man, but that by taking responsibility for this and for these two previous arrests, that he will see that he needs to move his life in a different direction. Only God can move him to change his heart, and we are praying that this will happen.
How did we recover from this excitement? We took a small hike on our mountain, at the San Tan Regional Park. It is pretty desolate right now, but it still a wondrous beauty of God’s creation.
My next blog won’t be as exciting. At least, I hope not. Yesterday was enough excitement for a long time. I must give a shout out the the Callaway County Sheriffs Department, for their professionalism, and their speedy response. I am thankful for my neighbors who reached out, and am glad that we could help them become more vigilant in the future. I must give a shout out to the community who shared this Facebook post to make others aware (now up to 355 shares since I started writing)!
I am thankful to God for his protection. I could have been home alone when this happened. Our property could have been harmed. Our neighbors could have been harmed. God protected us all. Praise to him!