After a thief drew social-media ire when he was caught on camera taking a package from a west Medford doorstep, a suspected accomplice returned the package with an apology letter. But a search warrant suggests the pair may have other victims to apologize to.
Medford police cited Matthew John Frombach Jr., 42, on a misdemeanor second-degree theft charge Wednesday afternoon after a video circulated on the popular Jackson County Scanner group on Facebook, along with a Medford police Facebook post calling out Frombach by name.
"Will you please come down to the department and talk to us about the package theft caught on video?" the police post says. "P.S. We have your truck. ... Bring the package."
The case was closed within 24 hours, according to Medford police Lt. Justin Ivens. He credited the fast work to the sharp video quality, which made it easy for another officer to recognize Frombach.
The victim contacted police Tuesday right after the theft and posted the video online, where it was widely shared.
Between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, police kept a watch on the '90s model GMC Suburban SUV seen on camera in the crime, which was parked on Jackson Street near Columbus Avenue. On Wednesday morning, police opted to impound the vehicle and issue a search warrant based on possible evidence spotted through the windows.
"You could see boxes when you looked inside the back windows," Ivens said, adding that shipping labels appeared to have been ripped-off the cardboard.
On Wednesday afternoon, the same surveillance system caught a woman believed to have been involved in the crime returning the stolen item with a letter to the victim, Ivens said. He didn't immediately know what the letter said other than that it was an apology. Police have not identified the woman.
Charges had not been filed Thursday in Jackson County Circuit Court in the case. Court records show prior felony identity theft and aggravated identity theft convictions for Frombach from 2013, in one case ordering him to repay just over $12,000 to five victims. He made one payment of $21 in March of this year in that case, and has paid back $536 of $1,096 in another 2013 identity theft conviction.
"We're a big fan of video surveillance just because of cases like this," Ivens said. "The price of these systems continues to keep coming down."
The video of the theft was captured by a Ring WiFi-connected doorbell camera. Some models of the cameras, which allow surveillance video to be accessed on a smartphone with footage stored online, retail for around $200, with full kits starting around $400. Online retailers such as Best Buy and Amazon.com appear to offer discounts.
Ivens encourages homeowners to register their surveillance cameras with Medford police's Surveillance Camera Registration and Mapping program, better known as SCRAM. Ivens said police don't monitor the footage, but the voluntary program can make it easier for police to contact homeowners when investigating a crime.
— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.