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Denver couple's home burglarized while gardening, suspect tracked down using app

Denver homeowners robbed while gardening
Posted at 5:16 PM, Aug 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-18 12:20:08-04

DENVER — A couple discovered their phones, wallets and a laptop had been stolen while they worked on their yard Saturday morning, and it was thanks to an iPhone feature they were able to get most of their stuff back.

Jodi and Andy Stemple were sprucing up their vegetable garden and lawn at their home on Emerson Street and 3rd Avenue when one of them decided to take a break.

That's when the two realized someone had taken their stuff.

"We watched the footage from the doorbell, and then it was shock," Andy Stemple said.

Ring video shows Denver couple robbed while working in their yard

Their Ring doorbell camera video showed a man they've never seen or met walking through their front door and into their house without hesitation. The door was unlocked because Andy Stemple was going in and out while working on the lawn.

"I was literally up at the front corner of the yard when this happened," he said.

Although the Ring video doesn't capture how the suspect exited the house, the couple says he left through a dining room window.

Using the Find My app on their son's iPhone, they were able to track where the suspect was taking their belongings.

"We went through this phantom Find [My] car chase trying to find him, and every time we got there, he was gone," Andy Stemple said.

The couple got one last chance when the app showed their phones were at the First Bank on North Broadway and East 6th Avenue. They caught the suspect as he tried to cash one of their checks. A teller denied the transaction.

Outside the bank, the Stemples confronted him and were able to get him to return their phones and laptop, but he left before they could get their wallets.

"I'm glad we did it. I think it's just kind of who we are. We've been through stuff like this before," Jodi Stemple said.

It took about two hours before an officer arrived, the two say, and what he said when he got there left them a bit upset.

"'If we catch this guy with your excellent material, he's going to be detained for a day, and the DA is going to let him go,'" Andy recalled the officer telling them.

They worry this criminal is going to do this again to somebody else even if he's caught.

As the Denver Police Department and Metro Denver Crime Stoppers spread the word, the Stemples plan to continue on like they have before, perhaps looking over their shoulder while gardening a little more often.

"You shouldn't let somebody else decide how your lifestyle is going to be in your own home," Andy Stemple said.

Denver police say the suspect also broke into someone else's home earlier in the morning and stole their 1990 Mercedes 190E sedan. That's what the couple saw him driving as he speed away from the bank.

If you have any information that could help detectives, contact Crime Stoppers. A $2,000 reward is being offered.