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“we literally just installed our Ring video doorbell yesterday and our house was burgled early this morning”

by Prince Of Petworth May 22, 2017 at 12:30 pm 44 Comments

A reader reports Sunday:

“We literally just installed our Ring video doorbell yesterday and our house was burgled early this morning. We live on 14th St between Taylor & Upshur. The man just walked in the front door (forcing the lock with a pocket knife) walked into our home and took a laptop. Our dog was right there but in her crate. She barked and woke me up, but I didn’t realize anything was missing till 2 hours later. Have contacted Police and filed a report but wasn’t sure if there was anything else proactive to do? I’ve attached some pictures in case anyone recognizes him.

FYI, just an update that we miraculously recovered the laptop this morning. It’s a crazy story but we located it 4 hours after the burglary. We located it via the ‘find my mac’ feature. We went to the vicinity (by Fort Steven) and called police. In the meantime my wife randomly asked some kids we saw near where the laptop was located and they recognized the man. He apparently showed up that morning bloodied and seemingly high. They called an ambulance and when the cops showed up he had a warrant and was this arrested. I guess everything he had was left at that families house so they brought my laptop & charger out to us.

Still trying to actually get the computer unlocked & functioning, but glad to have it physically in my hands.”

  • NH Ave Hiker

    You can force a deadbolt open with a pocket knife?

    • hma

      Install better locks, THEN security cameras.

      • anon

        Yes, I’d spend to keep someone out BEFORE I’d spend for video. Really good locks, good reinforced door framing, and replace doors with good solid doors. Sure, someone can always break in, but it really does matter how easy you make it for them. A system that will take some time to break into, combined with an alarm, with thwart many, many burglary attempts.
        Still I’m glad you got your computer back, and amazed that your video actually helped you to get it back!

      • textdoc

        To be fair, a Ring video doorbell is possibly cheaper than the cost of locksmith plus better locks, and DEFINITELY cheaper than replacing an entire door.

        • ah

          Yeah, but a picture of the thief alone doesn’t usually result in getting your stuff back. apparently it wasn’t much of a deterrent either.

          • textdoc

            At least in this particular case, the OP did get stuff back.
            Of the various options for increasing security, which would you say are the cheapest — better locks? Can existing door framing be reinforced, or is that the kind of thing that necessitates replacing the entire door?
            Doors themselves aren’t necessarily all that expensive, but it was amazing to me how much it cost to get them installed.

          • ah

            You can get various types of reinforcements. For example, I just added a “wrap around plate” (search it) that goes around the door knob and latch to make it hard to pry open a door. You can add reinforced strike plates as well to make it harder to kick in the door. The hardware is less than $50 and, while I did installation myself, probably could be done by a somewhat handyperson in an hour or two (max). Obviously everything can be broken, but the harder you make it the more likely they are to move on.

          • textdoc

            Thanks, AH!

        • anon

          Yeah, if all you are worried about is losing stuff. If you are worried about being personally safe in your home, then you want to keep people out, not just take photos of them.
          Deadbolt locks can be put in with anyone with an electric drill and a screwdriver and (I did many myself during my college years) and don’t require spending funds on a locksmith.

    • Carey

      Depends on the size of your pockets.

    • Anon Spock

      I would think just the knob was locked, but op didn’t say.

    • Herewegoagain


  • madmonk28

    That is one creepy as hell picture.

    • L.

      I know right? Not shocking he was high as a kite in that pic.

  • PetworthPanda

    Maybe it’s just me, but the expression on his face says, “Ohhh. The files are IN the computer…!”

    • Margaret


  • HaileUnlikely

    OP – could you please share what sort of lock you have on your door? This is absolutely not to criticize or blame you, but I would just love to know what type of lock it was that this guy successfully opened with a knife. I have been contemplating upgrading my locks for a while but keep deciding against it on the basis that I don’t have any real enemies and even an average deadbolt from Home Depot is going to adequately deter somebody who isn’t out to get me personally.

    • Marty

      The interwebs say get ANSI Grade I locks.
      Grade 1 – Best

      Highest grade security available. Meets commercial building requirements and is available for residential uses via deadbolts. There are not standard knobs, handlesets or mortise lockset that will meet ANSI Grade 1 certifications, only commercial lever handles.

      Knobs must withstand 800,000 cycles, 6 door strikes and a 360 pound weight test
      Deadbolts must withstand 250,000 cycles and 10 door strikes (hammer test)

      Grade 2 – Better

      Meets light commercial building requirements; exceeds standard residential security and building requirements.

      Knobs must withstand 400,000 cycles, 4 door strikes and a 250 pound weight test
      Deadbolts must withstand 150,000 cycles and 5 door strikes (hammer test)

      Grade 3 – Good

      Meets residential building requirements only and provides minimal residential security.

      Knobs must withstand 200,000 cycles, 2 door strikes and a 150 pound weight test
      Deadbolts must withstand 100,000 cycles and 2 door strikes (hammer test)

      • HaileUnlikely

        Thanks. Good info. FWIW I have ANSI Grade 1 Schlage residential locks. My limited understanding is that some of them can still be picked much more easily than others, that a sixth pin makes it harder, that having a “deep cut” (I don’t recall whether that means the pins are really short or really long, but anyway) makes it harder, etc. Consumer Reports finds that a lot of ANSI Grade 1 locks aren’t that hard to pick. I don’t have any idea of the prevalence of advanced lock-picking skills in the population, though. (Note: I’m using “picked” in a more general sense than a real lock geek uses “pick,” i.e., also including what a lock geek would call bumping. I just mean opening it by means other than breaking the lock, door, or frame.)

        • Eon13thStreet

          HaileUnlikely I felt the same as you until I had a locksmith over to add a keypad lock to my front door and he showed me how to pick my back door’s Home Depot deadbolt in 10 seconds with a flat head screwdriver. Needless to say, I upgraded my deadbolts. They were expensive (the keys are like car keys and can’t be copied without ID) but the peace of mind in a ground level unit was well worth it, especially seeing posts like this.

      • textdoc

        Marty, thanks for this info on ANSI grades for locks!

        • Also consider the strength of the door frame. A door with a great lock can still be easily kicked in if the wooden frame is not reinforced.

    • crayons

      In addition to letting us know what types of locks you have on your door, I think it is also critical to know what times you are away from home, if you leave any windows unlocked, where you store your backup cash and any precious jewelry. If you have the code for your alarm system, that would be fantastic too.

  • Lisa

    I live in a not-quite-up-and-coming neighborhood. I have deadbolts on all the doors, got custom security doors and basement windows (the ones at Home Depot are not very secure – I got mine from Medallion – it’s a local company in MD), and a monitored security system (my first ever – I did a ton of research and decided on Protect America). Sorry that happened to your family, but there are definitely additional steps you can take to feel more secure.

    • HaileUnlikely

      Just out of curiosity, about how much were the security doors from Medallion, and were you happy with their work? (I have Home Depot security doors. Mounted with 3-inch security screws, any metal door that opens outward rather than inward is going to make it a lot harder to get in…unless somebody just picks the lock).

      • ZetteZelle

        For what it’s worth, we were NOT happy with the Medallion front/security door that we got installed 10 years ago. The door itself is fine & tough, but I’m not sure it was properly fitted, and there are a few grape-sized gaps around the edges. I don’t feel that the security is compromised, but it makes our house very attractive to mosquitos.

        We were much happier with the Master Seal (Baltimore) security doors we got for the back of our house.

    • textdoc

      Lisa, do you remember about how much the doors/windows from Medallion cost you? (Ideally, about how much per door/window?)
      Just curious. Thanks!

  • Jane

    You leave your dog in a crate all night? How horrible? Do you keep him locked in a crate all day while you’re at work. Poor dog.

    • DCLiving

      Poor you for passing judgement like that. I crated my dog when I slept while he was going through house training. Don’t assume the worst.

    • Anon X

      So… you’re talking out of your ass. You have no idea whats best for this particular dog.

    • anon

      You pass judgment on people without knowing the facts? How horrible? Do you do this to your family, friends, and coworkers? Poor people.

    • Anon

      Oh my god shut your face. We are “dog people.” Have several. One sleeps in a crate all night. Love her like our own child – but she does NOT do well out of the crate without supervision. And if we put her on the bed – like our other dog – she jumps down, goes into the other room (bc she likes to sleep alone), then wakes up in the middle of the night, gets super anxious, and destroys our house. In the crate? She is snoozing like a calm happy baby when we get up at 6 am to take her out. Please don’t get a dog. Ever. You know nothing about dogs.

    • James

      It’s called crate training.

  • Rich

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned this—where did you buy the video thing? The one time I was burgled (in another city), it was suspiciously close to the time that I had bought a new tv, from a store not far away. This is not the most original or best long-term way to burgle but for a strung out drug user probably good enough. And the moral of the story seems to be invest in locks before you invest in tech.

    • Franny

      A few years ago,houses on my block started getting broken into, seemingly at random as things like tv’s, computer and stereo’s were stolen.

      They caught the guy after the 5th burglary and he admitted to casing alley’s looking for tv/computer/electronics boxes in the trash, indicating the person living there had just bought something worth buying.

      From that point on (well, until I moved to Bethesda anyway) I would take the boxes from new electronics that I bought to the dumpster at work and dispose of it there.

      • Rich

        I don’t think it was the box in my case, it was more likely a friend, sibling whatever at the store. Breaking down your boxes and taking them elsewhere (preferably for recycling) is a good idea anyplace. People have been doing that for decades, but then DC is not known for its practical minded people.

        • west_egg

          Couldn’t wait to work in that little dig there couldya

        • anon

          I must say, when I first started reading this post, I also thought that this was where this story was going to go – that someone from the place they bought the video camera from had gotten their address from their purchase and was able to go and see what they had that was worth protecting.

  • Mike

    The way the guy in the photo is looking in is scary. He reminds me of a Zombie in those horror movies. I watch too many scary movies. LOL On a serious note, the hot weather is upon us and I expect to see more of this happening.

  • Count Pheasant

    Holy goodness, you two should buy a lottery ticket.

  • textdoc

    I gotta say… one advantage of a video doorbell vs. a camera mounted above the door or in an upper corner of a porch — at least from what we’ve seen on PoPville as far as videos/still photos that people have shared — is that you get REALLY clear footage of what a thief/burglar looks like.
    Not sure how much that helps if it’s a case of (say) package theft and police can find the thief but not the package. But I’m impressed that this is one instance where the perp could be VERY easily identified from the footage.

  • Anon

    Did MPD actually file a report? I suggest following up because I’ve found many times the paperwork never gets done. Also keeps down the crime stats.

  • Sam

    For anyone interested in saving 25 bucks on a ring doorbell, you can use 42siouxfalls as a coupon code on Ring’s website.

  • anon

    “Still trying to actually get the computer unlocked & functioning, but glad to have it physically in my hands”
    Because the perp tried to guess the password too many times and it locked up? The perp managed to reinstall the operating system in his high stupor? What resulted in the computer not functioning?


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