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Help! I need to borrow your brains to catch a thief.

Discussion in 'Android Lounge' started by lingod, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. lingod

    lingod Newbie
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    Hello fellow Andy fans,

    I am looking for some advice and assistance with a problem I am having right now. Some dastardly do-badder has decided the holidays would be a good time to start stealing my mail. I have had at least 4 packages stolen(that I'm aware of) from my front porch before I got home from work from both UPS and USPS deliveries. Nothing outrageously expensive but at least a few hundred dollars worth of items at this point.

    For those of you thinking TLDR here's a short summary: I'm going to use an android phone to catch a guy stealing my mail any suggestions?

    I have decided that I want to catch this jackass and have devised a multip-part plan and was hoping I could get some assistance/advice on it from the members here. I plan to put out a "dummy" package in the coming days with hopefully a cheap pre-paid android phone inside. The phone will be activated before hand and the GotYa! app will be pre-loaded and tested.

    When said thief steals the package I can begin GPS tracking on it using one of the many finder apps for android, giving me an approximate location of the thief. Also once if he actually opens up the box and tries to use the phone, the GotYa! app will take a picture of him and send me the location. Next thing you know dude is making license plates.

    What I need from the community is just some ideas, improvements, criticsms of the plan and also any suggestions anyone has about getting a cheap pre-paid android phone with a front facing camera. I'd also love to hear any other ideas as well, while keeping in mind I'd like to keep this as cheap as possible and not having to spend hours staking out my house for a thief who may never show up.

    Thanks for your time!
     

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  2. PolicyWonk

    PolicyWonk Member
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    I think you should consult with your local law enforcement agency and ask for their support and assistance. Hopefully, they will cooperate and offer their expertise in how to successfully and properly snag the culprit.

    Also, you don't know anything about the thief or their capacity to retaliate against you. Therefore, you don't want the criminal to have any idea how involved you are in catching them. You want them to think the police did all the work.

    Good luck.
     
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  3. AndroidAdvntge

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    To the reply above,
    That's not as fun though! I like the plan, but I will point out that vengeance is universal. You want vengeance now, he will want it later.
    In my opinion, it would be cheaper to get a crappy surveillance camera after notifying the police
     
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  4. A.Nonymous

    A.Nonymous Android Expert
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    Also, is cheaper to call the cops and simply have the post office hold your packages for you to pick up rather than deliver them.
     
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  5. lingod

    lingod Newbie
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    True, I have considered that, which is why I had chosen what seemed to be the most fool-proof way to have him caught red-handed. I fear otherwise nothing much will ever be done and I will always have to wonder about my mail. I'm just worried law enforcement will do nothing more than file a report unless I have some type of actionable proof, maybe I'm just cynical but I have a feeling they are worried about other stuff.

    Yes I could do this although it is incredibly inconvenient, and although it may help with USPS does FedEx and UPS have the same options? I would always have to worry about the security of my mail. As much as the few hundred dollars worth of stuff he has already stolen sucks, there are much more damaging things he could steal from my mailbox.

    This is probably the best option, I didn't really want to go through that much trouble of installing some type of surveillance system. It would also have to be low light or night capable, I asked my mail carrier the other day about the two USPS packages and she told me she delivered them and they were there most of the afternoon so I suspect the perpetrator has been coming by just after dark before I get home. Ideally something like a camera system would really need to catch the perp's face and a license plate or something actually traceable in the system, whereas the phone idea gives an actual firm location of the stolen property as well as a picture of the perp all while remaining unknown to the perp.

    Thanks for all the feedback! Feel free to give any other feedback.
     
  6. Omar Days

    Omar Days Android Expert
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    just take a day off work, hide/stakeout and wait for him with a baseball bat.

    simples
     
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  7. A.Nonymous

    A.Nonymous Android Expert
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    You could just get a PO box. Or you could simply put a sign on the door that says to not deliver packages unless someone is there.
     
  8. james515

    james515 Well-Known Member
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    honestly, the cops don't care about stolen phones. they dont have the time or resources to deal with them
     
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  9. lingod

    lingod Newbie
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    Thanks for the feedback, and I would love to get my hands on this guy, but common sense says that caution is the wiser course. You never know what kind of weapon he may be concealing or how many of them ther are etc.

    I could do that but I would like to be able to receive my mail at home securely if possible. The sign idea may work, but I have a feeling UPS/FedEx would just tell me I had to come pick it up from the B&M store which closes before I get home from work.

    My point was not that they would be in a rush to rescue my phone, I am aware I would probably never see the phone or any of my items ever returned. The point of the phone was to be able to provide concrete actionable evidence to the police about the string of robberies this guy has done including a federal offense of tampering with the mail.
     
  10. lingod

    lingod Newbie
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    For now I have just decided to use an IR Surveillance camera. I'm just going to set-up a D-Link DCS 932L which will allow me to remotely monitor the camera with an android device as well as have it take pictures and email them to me when it senses motion in designated camera zones. Thanks for the feedback and suggestions, I appreciate it.
     
  11. dan330

    dan330 Android Expert
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    there is a small bug in your original plan.. so you catch the guy that took the trap package.

    that in no way proves they took the other packages.

    and retaliation to your home.. while you are out.. by such a person would be guaranteed.
     
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  12. AndroidAdvntge

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    I'm sure that they could find with probable cause, the boxes and or contents inside his or her's home. But retaliation would suck bad.
     
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  13. lingod

    lingod Newbie
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    Retaliation could be possible, but he would know he is suspect number one if he were to do that. I would rather worry about some guy breaking my windows then stealing my identity though. Plus it would be much harder to retaliate without my neighbors seeing and him getting caught and charged with more crimes. Also like AndroidAdvntge said there is a very good chance they would find more evidence once they caught the, assuming they did.

    Either way it's a moot point since I don't plan on taking that route anymore. Thanks again for the feedback though!
     
  14. scooterinmn

    scooterinmn Well-Known Member
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    I have heard of a similar story that was solved by packaging up a wild bobcat and leaving him on your porch! At least they would be easy enough to identify! :D
     
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  15. lingod

    lingod Newbie
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    LOL! Awesome!
     
  16. Noah Arc-lover

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    I'm from the UK, but can you not get locking postboxes wherein the package falls to the bottom and can only be accessed from a locked door ?
    Surely that would be cheaper and easier ?
     
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  17. lingod

    lingod Newbie
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    That would work for envelopes and stuff but what about boxes?
     
  18. Noah Arc-lover

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    If the postbox is tall enough, he's gunna need to carry some sort of tool to reach them.
    A four foot box with the aperture at the top and at arm height would make it difficult to reach stuff without looking like you're trying to steal from it.
     
  19. lingod

    lingod Newbie
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    I'm from the US, and not exactly sure what you are referring to. Are you talking about something like this: Oregon Columbia Security Mailboxes - Individual Locking Mailboxes - US Mailboxes ?

    It would take a huge one of those to accomodate any packages, there are larger ones but very expensive. I could probably make something like you are talking about but I would have to think of a way to design it so that the package didn't fall 3 feet straight to the bottom and also did not get caught on the way down. It would have to be pretty damn huge to fit most packages though and I doubt my Home Owner's Association would let me get away with something like that.

    The only real solution is stopping the person from stealing my stuff. Since I have resigned myself to the fact he will probably never get caught and stopped that way, I will probably just make it less attractive to try, by leaving porch lights on all the time(till I get 'em on timers), telling my neighbors(it's a lot of retirees so they're kinda of nosy anyway, I'm sure they'd love to keep an eye on my house), and mounting obviously visible surveillance cameras. Hopefully he won't think it's worth the risk, and if he does at least I will have something to give to the police when I report it this time.
     
  20. Noah Arc-lover

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    OK, what about fitting a trigger to the postbox door that'll trip a security light and a camera to record video ?
     
  21. dan330

    dan330 Android Expert
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    what about... sending packages to your/spouse/friend.... work/office?
     
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  22. lingod

    lingod Newbie
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    Right now I'm using an wireless IR capable security camera. It runs 24h/day can see about 15feet in the dark and had some decent monitoring software included. I have it set so that when ever it detects motion in a specific designated area of the screen it takes a snapshot and emails me the 3 frames before the motion was detected and the three frames after motion was detected. I can monitor the feed from any pc with an internet connection or use their android app and view it with a mobile device. The picture quality isn't stellar but good enough to identify someone, just wish i could get a license plate too if need be but that would just be too expensive. At least I can get the make and model. All of that for $100 is less than I would have had to spend with my original plan, plus my original plan assumed I would definitely lose whatever device I used to catch him. At least this way I know the money I spent is firmly mounted to my house.

    I do like your parcel/letter dropbox idea though and may see what my Home Owner's Association allows in regards to that. Thanks!
     
  23. lingod

    lingod Newbie
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    I plan to do that when I can, but you can't always know what is coming in the mail to you.
     
  24. Saltine713

    Saltine713 Android Enthusiast
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    You can have it delivered to work or a neighbor. Or, get a metal mailbox and electrify it.
     
  25. Saltine713

    Saltine713 Android Enthusiast
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    Even better: Have a video-streaming device with the camera inside the mailbox and a light set up to turn on when the box is opened. When the box is opened, they will be looking right at the camera. Sure, they might take the camera, but you will get it back since you have their face and them taking your box.
     

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