Trans-Atlantic Crime Fighting Brazil Break-In Foiled From Cologne

The phone call was unexpected, but João Pedro Wettlauser was glad to receive it. His house was being robbed in Brazil, but he was in Germany! No problem. He checked his security cameras via Internet, and told police where to find the robber.

An invaluable crime-fighting tool -- don't leave home without one.

An invaluable crime-fighting tool -- don't leave home without one.

Police forces across the world are by necessity collaborating more and more as criminals, embracing Internet technologies, become ever more globalized. But Interpol could learn a lesson or two from Brazilian João Pedro Wettlauser. He cleverly exploited high-tech gadgets to foil a burglary in his vacation home in Brazil -- while he was on a business trip in Germany.

Wettlauser was in a business meeting in Cologne when he received an alert on his cell phone. It was the security system in his vacation home in Guarujá on the Brazilian coast, informing him that movement sensors inside the house had detected an intruder.

"I got on my laptop, went online and saw live pictures of my house," Wettlauser said. When he saw security cameras images of a tattooed man filling trash bags with his possessions, he suspected something was not quite right. He called his wife in Brazil, who informed the local police.

In less than 15 minutes police officers had surrounded the residence. The businessman kept them informed about the thief's movements from his virtual vantage point, and the hapless burglar was caught in the act.

The thief, who had not suspected he was being watched, had tried on several items of clothing in the house and had selected the electrical goods he wanted to steal. Police were unconvinced by the thief's explanation that he was simply "gathering some of his friend's belongings" from the house because he had been asked to do so.

However Internet technologies, useful as they are, cannot always avert property disasters. American Eric Schwartz was out of town in Tampa when his house in Cobb County, Georgia caught fire Tuesday. Although fire crews were unable to save the multi-million-dollar home, Schwartz had the pleasure of watching it burn down live on the news Web site



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