Facebook and Twitter posts tipped thieves to empty homes

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. - A pile of loot discovered from a string of burglaries should serve as a big warning - be careful what you put on Facebook and Twitter because thieves are paying attention.

Police say burglars who hit homes in Lake Oswego, Beaverton and other areas of Washington County found their victims on social media by watching for folks stating that they would be out of town or keeping an eye out for people posting pictures while on vacation.

Then they made their move - hitting homes when they knew no one would be there. Police say the thieves would cut the power to disarm any alarm systems and then ransack the place.

Police recently discovered several caches of stolen items while serving a search warrant in Rhododendron, Ore. Stolen items were found in storage units and a motel in Rhododendron and hundreds of other items were found at a second-hand dealer in the Woodburn area.

The items were put on display in Lake Oswego on Monday to give theft victims a chance to find and reclaim their stuff.

None of it was worth very much, police said, but there were plenty of keepsakes that police would like to get back to their original owners. Among the items were delicate pieces of china, old newspapers from World War II and plenty of family heirlooms.

If you think any of the items might belong to you, you should call the Lake Oswego Police Department at (503) 635-0250 and set up an appointment to look at them.

Meanwhile, police did make an arrest - Thomas Phelps (pictured at right) was taken into custody in connection with the crimes. Police believe he did have at least one accomplice but no other arrests have been made at this point.