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Video: 12-year-old girl catches thief on webcam

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    >>> back now at 7:43, with a tech-savvy 12-year-old who used her web camera to catch an alleged thief red-handed. nbc's miguel agaria joins us with more.

    >> the pritchards put their house up for sale in august and police say it was their webcam that caught more than a curious house hunter.

    >> i had it under a bunch of pillows like right over here and i had it kind of, you could see like pretty much my whole room.

    >> reporter: 12-year-old howie pritchard suspected a thief all along.

    >> i thought i would catch my sister.

    >> reporter: but she got more than she bargained for when she set up her laptop and focused her webcal on the entrance to her bedroom. instead of catching her sister, police say she caught this guy, busted rifling through her drawers and stuffing his pockets.

    >> i saw there's a guy going through my stuff.

    >> reporter: place say he made his way into her home during an open house . and when howie came home a few hours later, she caught him on her laptop.

    >> i saw my chair was moved and i saw him come through the hallway and went through ply drawers.

    >> she came down the stairs screaming, somebody ripped us off. we looked at the video and it was shocking.

    >> reporter: the pritchards didn't recognize the man, but police did. douglas john callendrella is a 46-year-old real estate agent, convicted of stealing from houses before. two years ago he was arrested for accessing locked boxes to rifle through bay area homes. investigators say when put more than 50 stolen items on ebay, a victim notified police.

    >> it's shocking the stuff he's taken. especially in this community that's really tight-knit. it's really too bad.

    >> reporter: the pritchards say the suspect swipeded a diamond necklace, a diamond bracelet and some loose change. but they hope to get it all back. thanks to their 'tween's technology.

    >> it didn't happen that much like a 12-year-old catch as guy stealing.

    >> reporter: caught on camera, now callendrella is sitting behind bars. because the suspect is on probation for a burglary, he's being held in jail without the possibility for bail. he faces the exact same charges today in court. as for the pritchards, ann, they've taken their house off the market.

By
TODAY contributor
updated 1/12/2012 9:42:13 AM ET 2012-01-12T14:42:13

12-year-old Hallie Pritchard set up a webcam in her bedroom to catch her sisters red-handed messing with her stuff.

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But the footage she saw was much more alarming.

Video: 12-year-old girl catches thief on webcam (on this page)

A thief had used the Pritchard family's open house to as an opportunity to make off with loot, and thanks to Hallie's webcam, the alleged burglar is behind bars.

The Pritchards, of Orinda, Cal., put their stately home up for sale last August, but while they were showing off their house to buyers, tween Hallie was setting a trap.

“I (hid the webcam) under a bunch of pillows…so you can see the whole room,” she told NBC San Francisco in a report on TODAY Thursday. “I was trying to catch my sisters because they usually take things out of my room.”

Hallie wasn’t present during the open house, but when she returned home a few hours later, she set up her laptop to see what her webcam had captured. “I saw my chair move and I was like, ‘What was that?’ “ she said. “And I saw him come through our hallway then come into my room looking through my drawers.”

Story: Teen who hid from home invaders: 'I stayed calm'

Dad Chris Pritchard said, “She comes running down the stairs screaming, ‘Oh, my God, somebody ripped us off!’ (I said) ‘Really?’ We looked at the video….It was really shocking.”

While the family didn’t recognize the man, police did: He was identified as Douglas John Calandrella, a 46-year-old former real estate agent who had a history of stealing from open houses. He managed to stuff his pockets with a diamond necklace, diamond bracelet and cash from Hallie’s room.

Hallie is hoping to reclaim her possessions now that an arrest has been made, and she can’t help being a bit proud of herself for playing high-tech Nancy Drew.

“It doesn’t really happen much, like, a 12-year-old catches a guy stealing,” she said.

Already on probation for first degree burglary, Calandrella is being held without bail at the West County Jail in Richmond, Cal.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

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