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USpyStore Blog

  • Hidden Camera Catches Woman Trashing Cat

    A woman in Coventry was caught via surveillance cameras dropping her cat into a trash bin. The woman was seen carrying and petting a cat--named Lola--before stopping in front of the trash can. She lifts the lid, drops the cat inside, and walks away.

    The matter is under investigation by England animal rights group, RSPCA. Read More

  • Video Voyeur Captures Himself On Camera...

    A 54-year-old Marion County, Florida man was arrested after a tip led authorities to a hidden camera containing over 300 images of people using his bathroom, officials claimed on Monday.

    Edward John Phillips, age 54, of Reddick, FL, faces two counts of voyeurism using a video camera; one of the counts is juvenile voyeurism due to images that depict a person under the age of sixteen. Police claim that Phillips used a video game camera that is designed to take pictures when movement is detected. The camera was hidden inside a bathroom closet facing the toilet. Read More

  • GPS Application Leads Police to Thieves

    A recent rash of New Hampshire thefts caused police to investigate and warn the public not to leave valuable items inside vehicles parked in the state's national park areas--especially at trail heads. U.S. Forest Service agents also cautioned visitors to lock their cars.

    A recent investigation was launched after thieves smashed car windows to get into vehicles, stealing electronics and cash.

    Unfortunately for the unwitting criminals, police were able to track down them down within hours due to quick action stemming from a victim's GPS application on his cell phone. Most of these smash-and-grab type cases go unsolved, especially due to the remote locations, time delay between the crime and report, and absence of witnesses to the crime.

    In this case, the victim went to the State Trooper barracks and borrowed a police computer to track the location of his Smartphone; the phone was in a nearby community, and appeared to be with someone walking.

    State Law Enforcement officers called the community's police department, who dispatched officer to the area; the officer spotted a group of juveniles outside the residential area. A local Forest Service special agent also assisted, helping police determine four teens as the likely suspects. Police recovered the majority of property and the teens eventually confessed they'd participated in the crime spree, or were guilty of receiving stolen goods.

    While the case remains under investigation, police expect charges to be filed shortly. Ah, technology!

  • Copyright Office Unleashes iPhone; Legalizes Jailbreaking

    The U.S. Copyright Office announced that jailbreaking (software modifications that liberate iPhones and other handsets to run applications from sources other than those approved by the phone maker) the iPhone, and basically any Apple O/S, is legal. The decision stems from a request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the new ruling rewrites the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Read More

  • Hotels Top Identity Theft List

    Identity theft is the new watchword; hackers, thieves and criminals are continually discovering new methods to twist technology in an effort to steal personal information. Social media networks, cell phones, discarded utility bills and outright theft of personal property are all means employed by thieves to hijack your personal information.

    Trustwave, a security and compliance company, provides security information services and end-to-end solutions for businesses in an effort to protect confidential information systems. A recent report shows that hotels are now the top source for credit card data theft, surpassing restaurants for the top spot; nearly 40% of all personal data in 2009 came from hotels/motels compared to just 13% of thefts from restaurants.

    Hackers target hotel/motel booking and reservation centers due to the high-number of credit card numbers these entities keep "on-file." Like the Internet, once a credit card is in the system, it's available. A successful hacker can steal thousands of credit card numbers and, in essence, thousands--or millions--of dollars. Credit card numbers are used for numerous hotel services, such as bars, beaches, golf courses, swimming pools, gift shops, spas, and other recreational areas; however, they're all processed through one main database.

    Since hotels use proprietary systems, they're easy for hackers to exploit: a computer system at one hotel is similar, if not exactly the same, as the computer system at a competing hotel.

    The other unavoidable fact of hotels and motels are the number of employees who have access to the computer system and your personal data. According to an ABC News Report; "You have so many different employees going through the system that it allows them to either skim cards or put in malware that lets the bad guys hack into the system."

    In June 2010, Destination Hotels & Resorts had its computer system hacked and the credit card data of more than 700 guests from across the country was stolen; in January, Wyndham reported that their computer systems were breached and hackers accessed information from 31 hotels between November 2009 and January 2o1o. They never reported how many cards were compromised.

    Credit card companies usually don't require consumers to pay for unauthorized charges, but credit card users must report the theft in a timely manner to ensure their identity remains safe; the best method to is to check statements regularly and keep tabs on credit reports.

  • When Transformers Needs CCTV Equipment, They Call The U-Spy Store

    It was Friday, July 16, 2010 at 4:45pm when we received a call at our U-Spy Store Chicago location from the production crew for the movie Transformers currently being shot in downtown Chicago. The Transformers producer knew what she wanted but didn't exactly know what it was called. She described the product as being a larger bullet or cylindrical shaped camera that can automatically pan back and forth with a controller. But she in fact already had the described camera. All she really needed was the mount that could move the camera as well as the controller.

    Quickly our team contacted several of our area vendors who are scattered all over the Chicagoland area. One by one, our vendors told us the same story. This is actually very old technology replaced by the dome shaped PTZ camera. But the producers made it clear they did not want the more modern dome shaped PTZ. They needed something that could move the large bullet camera. It's all about the visuals and in a movie, capturing the mood and atmosphere is much more important that having the latest technology.

    After about 10 calls, we finally struck gold. We found the controller and panning mechanism in one of our vendors located in the Northwest Suburban area. It was now 5:06 and we needed to get approval, payment and retrieve the equipment before the 6pm closing time. About 5:30, after a flurry of calls and emails with attachments of images showing what the mechanism looked like, we received their approval.

    Now the hard part for us arrives. We needed to get to the vendor by 6 to pick up the equipment and find a willing U-Spy Store team member to personally deliver the equipment. Gabriel was heading back to the office after a long day of service calls. I called him and he agreed to delay the start of his weekend by a couple of hours by diverting his route home and stop at the vendor. He arrived minutes before close and then called me to say he couldn't make it on time. Gabriel likes to practical joke but didn't terrorize me too long. He said he had the equipment in hand and wanted to know what to do next.

    Meanwhile, back at U-Spy headquarters, German was more than willing to drive the equipment down to the Chicago Loop area to personally deliver the goods and perhaps get that Hollywood career jump started. I made sure that German had everything they needed to make things work including power supply, wiring and connectors.

    A better than average Friday afternoon rush hour helped make things run smoothly and soon German took the hand off from Gabriel and was delivering the much anticipated equipment to the movie set. At 7:57pm I received a text message indicating Operation Transformers was completed. A little more than 3 hours after the call, our U-Spy team accomplished our mission. Damn good on a Friday afternoon!

    Did we save the movie? Probably! Would the movie have figured out a way to continue shooting and production without The U-Spy Store? Probably not! Is the movie going to get 4 stars, 2 thumbs up and favorable reviews because The U-Spy Store saved the day? Absolutely Yes! In fact I am personally endorsing this movie right now by stating this will be the Movie of the Year!. Any questions of payoffs should be discussed with our legal team as soon as the trail of our former governor is complete.

    So the moral of this is, when you need something fast and hard to find, give The U-Spy Store call. Even when shooting a B movie, The U-Spy Store will transform that script into an Academy Award winner. Or at least a movie that was saved by The U-Spy store and not in the editing room. And remember to keep an eye out for those panning cameras and remember who saved the day? The U-Spy Store!

  • Social Media Results in Thief Bust

    Jacob Stone was having some bad luck last week.  His car was burglarized outside of a Seattle-area convenience store. The items stolen included high-end camera equipment and, of all things, his pants and a belt.

    One of the store's employees recognized the man who broke into Stone's car as a man who had stolen items from the store previously during the week. Stone--obviously knowledgeable about photography and videography, retrieved copies of the store's video surveillance footage and retrieved still images from the video footage.

    Stone created "wanted" posters of the thief and the car he used to flee the scene and posted them around the neighborhood. Then, he went a step further and posted the flyers on Facebook. Anyone recognizing the now hunted man were given a dedicated Hotmail address so that they could submit tips.

    In just a few days, he received the tip that local police used to nail the suspected shoplifter-cum-burglar. Someone in the area saw the man and emailed Stone. Stone called him back and later met with the tipster to give the man a reward of $250.  Plus, he got his equipment back, although he had to remove the images that the thief had taken of random items, like scenery in Seattle, a dog, and the perpetrators messy bedroom.

    Stone is thankful that his idea for using social media paid off, and appreciates everyone who helped him during the investigation. Stone will be much more careful where he leaves his car, and it's our opinion that he should invest in some automotive security if he's going to keep expensive equipment in his car. Just saying...

    And you thought Facebook just kept tabs on your friends...

  • U.S. & Russian Spy Rings Mimic Hollywood

    If you've been reading or watching the news lately, you undoubtedly know that the United States and Russia are in the midst of a so-called spy swap.  On June 27, the FBI arrested 10 people on charges that they were deep-cover spies working for the Russian government but living for years in the United States. Their job, according to the DOJ, was to determine U.S. "secrets by making connections to think tanks and government officials." Read More

  • Don't Forget to Secure the Garage!

    Securing a home is something with which most of us are familiar, even if we don't own one. Security bars, electronic locks, home security systems, video cameras, and motion-sensor lighting are all tools that help deter crime. Too often, however, the focus is on the home's living areas, leave a "weak link" in home security that's easy to exploit. Read More

  • Bugnets: More Than Backyard Pests

    Meetings with friends or clients. Private phone conversations. New business presentations. Financial transactions. Personal/family interactions. All items that we, as citizens of the United States, assume are private interactions, protected, and respected, by others. Read More

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