Sheriff: Suspects used social media to target homes for burglary

Sheriff: Suspects used social media to target homes for burglary
Power tools and sporting goods were among the many items recovered. (Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff's Office)

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ore. - The Washington County Sheriff's Office said two arrests have been made after a long multi-agency investigation into numerous burglaries at expensive but unoccupied homes in the Beaverton and Lake Oswego areas.

Sgt. Bob Ray said the suspects, Thomas Phelps, 38, and Roseanne McCausland, 28, used "unsecure areas" of Facebook and Twitter to determine when residents would be on vacation and would then break into the homes.

Ray said the string of eight confirmed burglaries began in March and over $100,000 in goods were stolen. The sheriff's office worked with other law enforcement agencies to track down the suspects. When they found Phelps in Rhododendron, Ore. they also recovered a large amount of stolen property at the hotel he was staying and from two nearby storage units.

"One of the things they were doing is they were focusing on higher-end homes," Ray said. "They would go to Facebook and Twitter" to see when the people were on vacation "and then take advantage of that information and burglarize their house when they were gone."

"By being able to go to social media and getting information about somebody when they’re gonna be gone, that’s kind of disturbing," Ray added.

Ray said Phelps was arrested Tuesday in Rhododendron and is being held on 21 charges, including burglary, theft, and criminal mischief. His bail is set for $50,000.

McCausland was arrested in St. George, Utah, on a weapons charge on September 1.

Ray said more charges are pending for both suspects and added the investigation is ongoing.

"We fear there’s probably more [burglaries], and there’s more victims out there."