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March 23, 2010

New Albany woman claims Facebook ‘friend’ burglarized home

Home security cameras catch burglars in the act

NEW ALBANY — A New Albany woman claims a man who added her as a friend on Facebook burglarized her home Saturday after she posted a message that she and her fiancee would be out for the evening.

The entire burglary was caught on video as the couple had recently installed a surveillance system in their home.

Keri McMullen, of the 4000 block of Lucy Drive, said she posted a message on the popular social networking Web site stating that she and her fiancee would be watching a band play at Louisville’s Phoenix Hill Tavern.

The concert was scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. At 8:42 p.m., two men broke into their home.

“They used a screw driver to jimmy open the back door,” McMullen said.

McMullen said her fiancee, Kurt Pendleton, works in home security. The couple has been trying to sell their home, and recently, a wine glass was broken during a house showing. No one would admit to breaking the glass.

“We put the cameras up last Monday because the house was being sold,” McMullen said. “Because people are showing the house while we’re not home, we want to know if something happens.”

Video shows the men going through McMullen’s purse and looking through their drawers. McMullen said the burglars emptied a laundry basket and filled it with things to steal.

The thieves stole a plasma television off the wall as well as a PlayStation, XBox, laptop computers and DVDs.

McMullen posted images of the suspects on Facebook and asked for help identifying the men. Someone helped identify the suspects, and McMullen realized one of them had befriended her, meaning he had access to view her profile page and any messages she posted.

She said the man added her and her sister as a friend on Facebook about six months ago.

“I haven’t seen him in over 20 years,” McMullen said. “He grew up across the street from us, so I wouldn’t have recognized him. I never would have put two and two together.”

She said the thieves were inside the house for 13 minutes and left the belongings in their front yard before returning to load the stolen merchandise into a Ford Explorer.

McMullen believes the man read her posting online that she and her fiancee would be at a concert and knew the home would be empty. Making it easier to find the home, McMullen said her husband’s work van sits in the front driveway.

She also had posted images of her home, including some high-priced items in the home.

Floyd County Sheriff’s Department Detective Jeff Firkins said they have possibly identified the suspects, but nothing has been confirmed.

“We’re not ready to make any arrests,” Firkins said.

One suspect, who McMullen described as the leader, is about 6 feet 1 inch tall with jawline facial hair and was wearing baggie jeans and a hooded sweatshirt. The second suspect was about 5 feet 11 inches tall with dark low-cut hair and facial hair. He was also wearing a hoodie. Both men are described as being in their late 20s or early 30s.

McMullen said she has learned to be more careful with what information she shares.

“I’ll never put that I’m not going to be home again online,” she said. “The guy who added me I hadn’t seen in 20 years. He’s not someone I would say that’s my friend.

“Just because you have someone on your Facebook doesn’t mean they’re trustworthy. I’m going to be weeding out my friends.”



*******************

YOU CAN HELP

• Anyone with information about the burglary is asked to call the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department at 812-948-5407.

FACEBOOK PRIVACY TIPS

• Read some hints here for protecting your privacy on Facebook — www.allfacebook.com/2009/02/facebook-privacy/

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