MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – In the last two weeks, two homeowners have used the power of technology to catch burglars in action inside their homes.

Homeowners in south Minneapolis and Roseville used a combination of gadgets and small cameras to capture high-quality video of the thieves.

South Minneapolis homeowner Joe Craddock said his Dropcam by Nest video monitoring system helped him catch a burglar in the act. An alert sent to Craddock’s work computer tipped him off to the break-in.

“It is really nice to have your phone, get an alert when there’s motion, be able to see a still of it, and click to see exactly what’s going on in your house,” Craddock said.

A couple of weeks ago Roseville police say a woman’s $4 smartphone app, called “Cloud Baby Monitor,” helped officers catch the burglar right outside her home.

Maple Grove Crime Prevention officer Todd Strege said even the least expensive of these simple apps and gadgets are giving homeowners the upper hand.

“How readily available the equipment is now — plus as user friendly as it is — it’s not very hard to buy a complete system yourself and put it in,” he said.

Craddock said he spent about $300 for Dropcam by Nest, which includes small cameras and a video feed that is watchable remotely.

A basic home security system from a big-name company can run about twice that amount per year, not counting the initial installation fees.

Although most high-tech security systems offer more sophisticated services, Strege said the most important feature regardless of price has to do with notifying someone immediately when something out of the ordinary is detected.

He said all the services, regardless of price, give police a chance to start looking for thieves almost immediately after a crime occurs.

“If the system’s going to go off, it’s calling a dispatch center or calling someone, so law enforcement can respond faster,” he said.

Craddock said Monday that he didn’t believe investigators had tracked down any leads yet, but he is hopeful the surveillance footage will help.

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