NEW BRIGHTON, Minn. – A New Brighton woman credits the technology of her family’s new video doorbell system and the far reach of social media with solving a package theft from her doorstep, a crime connected to many other similar thefts in her neighborhood.
Nicole Faulkner and her family bought the Ring doorbell technology last year after several packages in the neighborhood disappeared from porches, and have never had any concerns of their own until last week.
The video doorbell is connected to an app, and through the app, Faulkner saw a woman approach the door. The woman knocked, rang the doorbell, peered in a window, and then grabbed her Amazon package and took off.
“I was shocked,” said Faulkner.
The thief had no way of knowing that little value was inside: yarn and a reed for Faulkner’s daughter’s clarinet. A larger operation unraveled mere minutes after Nicole posted the video to several Facebook groups in her neighborhood and city. Immediately, people recognized the woman stealing her package and those tips reached the New Brighton Police Department.
After Faulkner’s video and a second surveillance photo of the same woman surfaced, New Brighton police officers linked three package theft cases to a Blaine woman. After more than 6,000 shares, people pointed police to the suspect in mere minutes.
Officers arrested Erin Wahl, 34, of Blaine, who now faces two felony charges for mail theft. Court records indicted Wahl admitted stealing packages to fuel a drug addiction and told officers, “she feels ashamed and wants treatment for her addiction.”
“It’s definitely a crime of opportunity. People are very opportunistic in terms of following delivery vehicles around this time of year watching where packages are being left,” said Tony Paetznick, New Brighton Director of Public Safety. “Unfortunately, you see people in crisis or addiction turning to these types of crime to feed their addiction or habit.”
Police say Wahl has been a suspect in other mail thefts across the area, and has a history of convictions for credit card fraud, shoplifting and felony theft.
“I can’t say enough about New Brighton police, it was yarn,” said Faulkner. “I felt a little violated even with something as simple as yarn, but to see the whole city come together in this strange way on social media was kind of endearing. A lot of people were concerned and willing to share.”
New Brighton Police want people ordering or receiving packages to remember especially this time of year to track your package, require a signature, have packages picked up by a neighbor or sent to a workplace, or even consider storage lockers. Amazon has many locker pick-up sites around the Twin Cities.