When Dave Crosby, one of the co-founders of Seattle-based Wyze Labs, was the victim of a robbery this summer, he turned to his own company’s technology for help in solving the crime. A new, outdoor security camera — unreleased to the public at the time — was mounted over his driveway and captured footage of a car prowler grabbing another of the cameras from Crosby’s vehicle.
Crosby, head of marketing for the 3-year-old smart home products maker, was testing the Wyze Cam Outdoor. He ended up as a main player in a YouTube video (above) that could serve as a testimonial for the new security device.
“I actually had grabbed those Outdoor Cams from the office and put them in my car because later that week I was shooting the actual promo video for the product,” Crosby told GeekWire, admitting that he mistakenly left his car unlocked. “Little did I know that a nice promo video would be created all on its own.”
When Crosby and co-workers discovered that the thief had posted the stolen camera for sale on Craigslist the next day, he set about chronicling it all for his popular YouTube channel, to document his efforts to catch a criminal. Crosby is no slouch on YouTube — he’s got 3.25 million subscribers who usually tune in to catch the father of three singing with his daughter.
He hit the ground running that day in August — and started filming himself — when he realized his car had been broken into and the footage was on his Wyze camera. Holding up a box for the Wyze Cam Outdoor, Crosby breathlessly said, “This is brand new. No one in the world has it. People are super excited to get this … it’s gonna be huge.”
Crosby moved about his home that morning, informing his wife Ashley of what happened and looping in his kids, Claire, 8, Carson, 6, and June, 2. A Wyze co-worker communicated with the thief on Craigslist, trying to arrange a spot to purchase the stolen camera for $50.
Crosby talked on the phone with police, trying to figure out the best way to have them involved as he made plans to be the one who would confront the thief. He said he definitely had some safety fears as he eventually set off the next day, with his family following in another vehicle, for a Fred Meyer parking lot in Renton, Wash. He was told to just dial 911 when he was in the area and police would arrive.
“I was surprised the police wanted me to just go make a deal with him,” Crosby told GeekWire, adding that once he was on the scene about to meet the seller, police arrived instantly before he could even talk to the guy.
“It was a fun adrenaline rush and I’m glad I got to be involved in catching him,” Crosby said.
The video captured Crosby filling out a police report in the back of his car, seated near his kids. Footage of the suspect is blurred as he talked to police. An officer returned the stolen camera to Crosby and remarked on Wyze’s technology in relation to it’s big Amazon-owned competitor.
“Good luck with the Wyze camera,” the officer said. “Gonna compete against Ring.”
“We are. We’re gonna take ’em down,” Crosby replied. The Wyze Cam Outdoor ended up selling out instantly when it was officially released and Crosby told GeekWire that it’s been a struggle to make them as fast as the startup can.
The value of the camera ended up not being enough to book the man into jail, and Crosby said he never followed up on the results of a supposed court date for the thief.
But his kids got a lesson in crime fighting and dad came away looking pretty cool.
“You could totally be a police,” his son said in the video.
And then the promo for Wyze cameras comes full circle as his daughter concluded, “And this is why we have WyzeCams, people.”