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Old 10-03-2009, 11:04 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Help me catch a thief; or, 'Freeze! Verizon Wireless!'

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I work for a Verizon retailer. In the last two months, we've had four break-ins. These guys are relentless... they knocked through two walls in one break-in to get to our phones. We've since secured most of our inventory in safes at this point, which actually stopped the thieves during the last break-in.

I wanna catch these guys. I'm thinking putting a Blackberry out, to serve as a prime target to be stolen, and loading some sort of GPS tracking software on the device in order to lead the police to their location.

What would be the best program to simply give me a GPS fix for the phone? I need something that can load automatically when the Blackberry is turned on, though I suppose we could just charge the bait phone every day and put it in the box at night left turned on in the event of a break-in.

Oh, and I'd rather the program not be visible to the thieves if they turn the phone on and mess with it.

Last edited by SpectreBlofeld : 10-03-2009 at 11:05 AM.
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Old 10-03-2009, 11:24 AM   #2 (permalink)
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SmartGuard for one.

You can even load GoogleMaps on it, with an email address and Latitude on and track it.
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Old 10-03-2009, 11:37 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks! Does the Google Maps tracking work invisibly, and will it work after a reboot or does Google Maps have to be restarted manually?
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Old 10-03-2009, 12:02 PM   #4 (permalink)
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When closing Google Maps where Latitude has been activated, you will be presented a question to close and keep sharing your location, or close and quit sharing.

After a reboot, Google maps won't open automatically. Viewing the location of that device will show the last noted location. So it's not perfect. There are other apps like smartguard that work in the background after a reboot.
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Old 10-03-2009, 12:49 PM   #5 (permalink)
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No security cameras? Wow.
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Old 10-03-2009, 01:45 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Yeah, we have cameras. The footage shows some guys with masks stealing all our inventory. Not a terribly big help.

I'm giving Instamapper a whirl on my Tour and it's working beautifully so far. I think it might just be the ticket. It's free, allows you to track via their website, and can be set to load on startup.

Last edited by SpectreBlofeld : 10-03-2009 at 01:46 PM.
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Old 10-03-2009, 04:12 PM   #7 (permalink)
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You gonna chase them down?

Unless the police are willing to take your direction at where the device is located, I think loading the battery compartment with a stink or die bomb might be more satisfying!
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Old 10-03-2009, 04:34 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSanders View Post
You gonna chase them down?

Unless the police are willing to take your direction at where the device is located, I think loading the battery compartment with a stink or die bomb might be more satisfying!
Is there an app for that?
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Old 10-03-2009, 04:35 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Well, the hope is that the police would take the info. There have been a series of related break-ins around the area, they say, and they wanna get the guys.
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Old 10-03-2009, 04:46 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I would let them know ahead of time what you are doing... contact the detective in charge of that area, and explain to him and work with him.

It'll be a lot easier than the surprise last minute call "Our store got burglarized and I've tracked down the thief to..."

Police agencies don't like citizens interfering or taking the law into their own hands. They will much appreciate prior notice and letting them in on the plan ahead of time.
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Old 10-03-2009, 04:58 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Eh, if they don't like it, they don't have to follow up any info I give them. I don't plan on kicking any doors in myself, personally. For all we know, there won't be any more break-ins, so alerting the police to what I'm doing may be pointless.

InstaMapper is the best free option I've found so far. Annoyingly, when set to start on boot up, it opens very visibly on the screen. However, I found another free app called 'Start Me Up' that will start any program on bootup, and open it as a background app. It will even allow you to specify a delay so the program only runs after a set amount of time after bootup.

Unfortunately, InstaMapper is so determined to make sure you're not using their program to spy on someone that it will pop into the foreground on its own every now and then, which hardly makes it ideal for this application... and makes it annoying for general use as well, because you have to deal with it 'getting in the way' now and then.

I wish SmrtGuard had a free trial period. They give you a 30-day money back guarantee, but I'd like to try before I put money down to see if it's remotely close to what I'm looking for, ya know?
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Old 10-03-2009, 05:02 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Working in the field, I am sure the Police would like a heads up about the attempt to track the phone.
They may be more than willing to help out with extra resources and the ability to run down the burglars when you track them.
What you need to be careful about is what JSanders referred to. Some agencies may get really upset with a last minute call about tracking the perps. Give them the heads up, they probably want to catch the guys as much or more than you do.
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Old 10-03-2009, 05:08 PM   #13 (permalink)
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If we get broken into, the police will be talking to me anyway - I don't have to go to them.
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Old 10-03-2009, 10:05 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Wirelessly posted (8830 thru Sprint)

Oooooorrrrr, this might just be one more attempt with a well thought out story from some crazy dude to stalk some girl... That's the first thing I thought when I read this... Who knows, I may be wrong
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Old 10-03-2009, 10:22 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Except that the OP, SpectreBold, has been around here a while... those kind of inquiries (which we do see here) are routinely first time posters.
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Old 10-03-2009, 10:24 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Wirelessly posted (8830 thru Sprint)

Good point... My apologies.
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Old 10-03-2009, 10:53 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbairdjr View Post
Working in the field, I am sure the Police would like a heads up about the attempt to track the phone.
They may be more than willing to help out with extra resources and the ability to run down the burglars when you track them.
What you need to be careful about is what JSanders referred to. Some agencies may get really upset with a last minute call about tracking the perps. Give them the heads up, they probably want to catch the guys as much or more than you do.
I agree with Jim. I'm former LEO and it might be helpful to just give a heads up to the detective assigned to your case. Also, what does corporate think about this?
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Old 10-03-2009, 11:43 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dumbnative View Post
Wirelessly posted (8830 thru Sprint)

Oooooorrrrr, this might just be one more attempt with a well thought out story from some crazy dude to stalk some girl... That's the first thing I thought when I read this... Who knows, I may be wrong
No stalking, I promise. We've had four break-ins, three in one location and one in another. Very quick smash-and-grabs. In the location that was broken into only once, the thieves broke through a wall in the back of a shop that sells decorative tile (nothing worth stealing in that shop, therefore no alarm), and then broke through that shop's bathroom into our store's bathroom (no motion sensors in there). Then they were able to quickly dump as many phones into sacks as they could in the thirty seconds or so before the alarm went off (due to the motion sensors outside the bathroom). At the other location, they simply smashed the glass to our showroom floor all three times, and kick in the door to the back room where the phones were. The third time they broke in, they were met by a 1000+ lb safe. No phones for you! The morons made off with two flatscreen TVs we had on the showroom instead, but in doing so, they broke the coax connectors on the back of the TVs because they didn't bother unscrewing the cable. The end of the coax still had the connectors that had been ripped off the TVs hanging from them. Real geniuses.

If it was the same guys all three times, they probably won't be back to that store now that they've seen the safe. I should've thought of this after the first break-in, but how would I know they'd be back?

We're upgrading all our stores with those safes.

We had insurance, but the deductible still hurts. They won't be able to activate those phones on Verizon (they're blacklisted now), but those phones could be activated on Metro or shipped out of the country or whatever. Or they could be sold on Craigslist and the unfortunate souls that buy them will only find out they're stolen when they try to activate them on VZW.

The cops said that similar break-ins are happening at wireless retailers all over.

The only reason I hesitate telling the cops what I'm doing is because we may not even have another break-in, or if we do, it could be many months down the road. Sure, I could call them up and say 'lol dewds, im gonna track the burglarz' and they'll be all 'ROFL awesome' but then eight months go by before a break-in happens, and then I'm really right back to the scenario you guys described - me calling the cops saying 'OMG I KNO WHERE DEY ARE' catching them off guard. If I do this, and if it pays off, this is what will happen - the alarm goes off, the cops arrive on the scene, I get a 4 AM phone call, I come to the location and meet with the police, and I show them the current GPS location of the stolen phone and say 'I hope this can help in some way' and let them get to work. There's no vigilantism here, just a tool in a toolbox that I hope can put an end to this.

Plus, you gotta admit, it's pretty cool and you'd do it too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by texasPI View Post
Also, what does corporate think about this?
As a retailer, I don't work for corporate VZW, so it doesn't really matter what they think... it's not their inventory that's been looted repeatedly.

Last edited by SpectreBlofeld : 10-03-2009 at 11:48 PM.
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Old 10-03-2009, 11:48 PM   #19 (permalink)
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lol, I do like your attitude.

Oh well, leave the Storms out for them...
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Old 10-04-2009, 02:34 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Ha! I will admit that the best part about all this is that we managed to get rid of some old inventory hanging around that we couldn't movie... HTC Touch Diamonds, Omnias and the like... okay, in short, dreadful WinMo devices So sacrificing a Storm or two won't break my heart...
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