EditorialsGood and EVOPocketables

Robbery in the age of technology

burglarSo I got robbed, or my car did, and it’s lead to some interesting thoughts on what happened and tech failures.

Of the things I’ve reviewed in the past, some are Foscam products (now Amcrest.) While I don’t believe I ever wrote up the home security piece I was going to write up on them, they’ve been running pretty solid for a while now, watching my cars, watching the postman chuck a 40 pound package five feet breaking all the contents, and figuring out that the random beer cans in my front yard were actually not from people sitting in the yard drinking while I was at work.

What they caught recently was me evidently locking my car at 3ish from inside the house, and then at 12:04am a man coming up and spending some quality time removing roughly $1600 of stuff I had in my car because the car was now unlocked.

The prime stolen items were my two sets of Enchroma colorblind correction glasses at ~$430 each, one of which was in the car coming back from work so I could drop it in to send them back to the company (only one set worked for me,) and a couple of computer items I didn’t take in because it was raining sideways. Yes, I’m aware this is moron behavior in these times.

But the car was locked. I didn’t go back out to it and it was unlocked when he got there. Sadly the resolution on my cameras can’t detect when the car is unlocked but at some point that happened. The current guess is that the key fob got triggered, either from bumping into something, a kid walking on me, or some other inadvertent pressing.

As there’s no audible feedback from the key fob, and no visible indicator on a rainy night 26 feet from the car that it’s unlocked, I went to bed thinking it was locked.

At 12am a random man walked up and saw a light in my wife’s car. For some reason (probably kiddos,) the interior dome light was on. He came over and tried the handle thinking a door was open. It wasn’t, but then he tried mine and bam, it was.

He got in my car, left about 15 minutes later, came back, and finally left at 1:12am, over an hour after he’d started stealing stuff.

I got in my car at 8:30am as it was my littlest’s 15 month checkup/shots. Noticed everything was gone and wiped clean. Called the cops while driving to the appointment as I couldn’t reasonably reschedule. And I sat in an office with next to no wifi or internet and fumed while I tried to pull video. Managed to drain my battery over the next two hours sitting in a waiting room (seriously, should have been a 10 minute visit “baby ok? yup. concerns? nope. shots? yup”,) and realized the guy had stolen all my phone chargers when I got back out.

Dropped baby off at daycare, had to then run and wait in line to get her food because she’d missed feeding… inexorably stressing me out as the person had to go back three times for beans, a napkin, etc, I’ve got a dead phone, and I wanted to see when I was robbed. Food back to baby, back to the house, call the cops who say they’ll send someone right over.

Click the drive all the video is on, click the camera folder it’s recorded in, and wait… and wait… and wait… having not cleaned the folder out in a few weeks there’re 60,000+ videos in there that for some reason Windows wanted to look through each one now because you know, it couldn’t have done that while the computer was idle 99% of the time.

Watching videos is completely out of the question on that drive so I copy the contents of the last day’s footage over to my SSD, and piece together all the stuff from camera 1.

Camera 2 had an interesting issue I still haven’t figured out. The video during the day plays absolutely fine, the video at night plays the first second and then it’s all that last frame. This is using VLC. I looked at day footage, no problem, night footage was universally one frame and stop.

I had no clues. Tried to find another MKV player but kept running into scamware, so on a hunch I uploaded some of the video to YouTube and guess what – all the video renders fine except now I have to upload several hours to scan through nighttime footage.

An hour and a half waiting on the police I call back just to make sure there wasn’t a mixup, nope, rash of robberies in my area have them tied up. Odd.

I piece the videos together into one long YouTube video I can show the police. Officer shows up and says he’s got Deja Vu with my story as he just came from the same thing a few streets over. I show him video, he dusts for prints, I pass of serial numbers of everything that had them and ask him what he thinks about posting this on our district web page. He says go for it, out in a different district they’re catching people left and right posting video on district Facebook pages.

So I do. What happened next is kind of up in the air as things are still rolling. First I learn that the same guy kept going all night (guess his 30 minute nap in my car helped,) and police were called three blocks over.

I get a Facebook friend request from someone in the group. This person is new to the group, has one friend. One friend on Facebook is what set my hackles up a tad… well, that and that her one friend looked exactly like the guy who stole my stuff.

I check with the admins who say they got a request for this person to join the district page a couple of days back. Account was created a couple of days back. Eh, I’m probably jumping at shadows I think. On a hunch I Google Image Search the person’s Facebook profile pic and bam, multiple matches on other sites that indicate that this is not the pic of the person who’s on FB and claiming to live in our district. Someone’s catfishing.

I look at the profile of the only friend this person has who looks like the guy who robbed my car, run his name through the online Criminal Court Clerk search, pick the guy who’s approximately the right age and read multiple convictions for theft, burglary, etc.

Pass that onto the cops and now I wait. As we got prints, video, a name, I’d say my chances at the moment are roughly 12% of ever seeing my stuff back.

I got a note from someone mentioning my keyfob issues were pretty much industry wide and the thing needs a redesign/overhaul. Having a nine year old car I can’t comment too much on keyfob advances, but it does seem to be an issue. I’m betting with more connected cars this is solved or solvable now.

But at the moment I don’t have a checklist indicating that it’s not safe to sleep because maybe baby triggered the fob, or maybe someone cloned the thing, but the car is unlocked.

Going to invest in a waterproof duffel bag for the future so I can get everything in my car out in a rain storm and not trust that the thing is going to be locked.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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