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Web-cam snaps burglars in action

By static in MLP
Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 08:44:47 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

Someone has found a new use for those little webcams: he's caught burglars in the act! The Sydney Morning Herald has the full story. The long and short of it is that Ivan Lim's been burgled a few times, to his frustration, and decided to setup his webcam for when it next happens. Six months later, it caught something. I first saw his web site yesterday, after a friend mailed it to me. Then it made the front page of the newspaper today (9th Feb).

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Web-cam snaps burglars in action | 21 comments (16 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
Not the first time (5.00 / 1) (#1)
by Aquarius on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 06:06:16 PM EST

This happened to the DNA Lounge, the club that jwz is setting up, too. His weekly writeups have the details.


"The grand plan that is Aquarius proceeds apace" -- Ronin, Frank Miller
Damn (3.00 / 1) (#18)
by kagaku_ninja on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 02:55:29 PM EST

I was going to post that. Anyway, check out the site, it is really cool. It also spells out in great detail why SF, and the rest of the Bay Area is turning into shit.

Nice to see a rich dot-commer putting some money back into the community.

[ Parent ]
Been there.. (4.66 / 3) (#4)
by da_unicorn on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 06:32:39 PM EST

Although I have not been robbed, I have been doing something similar on my home / office LAN for months. My G4 Mac runs Coolcam and the USB camera and it puts them on my old thinkpad which is closed and out of sight on top of a cupboard running Debian + Apache.

I busted my cat testing my sandwich, but nothing more sinister. Thats probably why we call him "The Bad Boy"

Best to archive to an offsite machine, I suppose. Like a couple of local idiots who stole the security camera at a local quick store burglary and left the obvious VCR that recorded them. Duh, lets grab the camera in case they are watching it!


same thing here... sort of (3.33 / 3) (#5)
by ODiV on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 07:20:18 PM EST

I was just out my door in residence when a friend asked if he could borrow my vcr. I told him that my door was open and he could go in and take it. When I got back later, I had messages from my friends telling me some guy had stolen my vcr. I played it up for a bit, asked for descriptions or screen captures, but eventually told them.

[ odiv.net ]
Same here. (4.66 / 3) (#6)
by Seumas on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 07:25:15 PM EST

I've actually been doing this for the better part of a year. I have a laptop that I rarely use when I'm home, other than crunching numbers for distributed.net. I took a seldom used webcam (I'm really ugly, so nothing you'd want to see on the web) and put it in a corner of the room. Takes full color video when the motion sensor is triggered. I don't even bother to hide it, because the videos are transfered immediately to a server about fifteen miles away. So if the person notices the camera, and walks up to it to yank it or the machine it's plugged into, it just means I have a better shot of their face.

I just read K5 for the articles.

yet another old technology (4.00 / 2) (#7)
by Delirium on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 07:25:23 PM EST

How is this different from the relatively old practice of installing home security cameras (look in the back of any Popular Mechanics magazine for a billion ads for them)? Those have been used to catch home burglars quite a few times over the years. Is taking an old technology and hooking it up to a computer suddenly new and innovative? From this particular example, it seems he would've been just as well off with an old-fashioned tape-recording security camera, as I don't see any relevance of the "web" features of the camera.

New? Who said it was new? (4.50 / 2) (#9)
by static on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 08:01:58 PM EST

In fact, it's quite an obvious thing to do, in retrospect. I was more amused that a newspaper decided it was newsworthy. Front-page material, in fact. Perhaps I should have mentioned that.


[ Parent ]

yeah (none / 0) (#13)
by Delirium on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 11:35:55 PM EST

I suppose that was my point. I don't consider it newsworthy, either of the front-page newspaper sort or the k5 sort. =P

[ Parent ]
It was sort of "meta-news" (none / 0) (#20)
by static on Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 06:37:44 PM EST

That a newspaper thought it was newsworthy was my point. :-)


[ Parent ]

View the robbers on the Web, though (4.50 / 4) (#12)
by skim123 on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 10:33:45 PM EST

But this way you could, via a browser, check up on your home instantaneously. Don't know how you'd do this with just a camcorder. Wouldn't that be an interesting call into the police?

You: Hello, yes. Two men are robbing my home.
Police: Are you in the home now?
You: Oh no, I'm actually on vacation in Burmeuda.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

[ Parent ]
But... (3.00 / 1) (#14)
by polychrome on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 04:17:40 AM EST

...what makes this interesting are some of the other questions it raises. Like, have the (supposed) burglars had any possibility of a fair trial destroyed? And does this then mean that any charges will be thrown out of court? And can the owner of the web-cam prove that neither he nor anyone else has tampered with the (digital, and hence very vulnerable) data? DID what was broadcast really happen?
That the prisoner's dilemma even exists tells you everything you need to know about people.
[ Parent ]
Very interesting. (none / 0) (#21)
by static on Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 06:46:27 PM EST

A heard second-hand that on the TV news that night, a senior police officer lamented that the victim had put it on a web page because now it will make them harder to catch.

I suspect some notions of "fair trial" are too tangled up with legal technicalities.


[ Parent ]

Motion detection (4.00 / 1) (#15)
by Paul Johnson on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 07:59:40 AM EST

The really cool thing is the motion detector along with the potential for off-site storage and archiving. So the perps have no chance of spotting the camera and destroying the recordings.

And of course its cheap and simple to set up, unlike a load of photocells and hidden pressure pads connected to video recorders.

You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.
[ Parent ]

Legality (none / 0) (#16)
by retinaburn on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 09:40:40 AM EST

Despite the fact these two broke into his house, is he legally allowed to publish these photos without consent ?

I know for TV you really need forms to be signed allowing you to use peoples pictures. How does this relate to the web, and to newspapers for that matter ?

Hate to see this guy get sued after busting the criminals ...but it wouldnt suprise me.

I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho

Legality... Schegality (5.00 / 1) (#17)
by DeanT on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 02:30:14 PM EST

Hate to see this guy get sued after busting the criminals ...but it wouldnt suprise me.
Think about this for a minute...

Thieves: We want to sue this guy, he's distributing pictures of us without consent.

Lawyer: I see. Where did he take these pictures?

Thieves: Well, actually, in his house. They were taken while we were in his house.

Lawyer: Did he tell you he'd take pictures when he invited you in?

Thieves: Well, actually, we weren't actually invited inside.

Lawyer: So, you were inside his house uninvited. Go on.

Thieves: Well, there we were stealing his high dollar DVD player, 'cause, well 'cause we can't afford one, and I guess we didn't notice the camera taking pictures.

Lawyer: Hmm. I think there's a firm down the street that's better suited to this case. (Loosely translated: this case is a big fat loser)



[ Parent ]

What I find most interesting about this... (none / 0) (#19)
by cr0sh on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 06:18:14 PM EST

Is the fact that they walked by the camera and computer numerous times, yet didn't think to, "DUH!" - steal the computer!

What does this mean? Do thieves not value computer hardware any more? Has computer hardware become such a commodity item that it is no longer something worth stealing? Or were the thieves just plain stupid (actually, this last question has already been answered by their actions)?

I mean, come on - you see a computer with a camera, the hard drive light is blinking, the power light is on (ok, maybe these could be disconnected - but the power supply fan could still be heard) - yet you think nothing about it? These thieves suck! Ok, that was a bit trollish...

Web-cam snaps burglars in action | 21 comments (16 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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