My Tools Are Being Stolen, What Should I Do?

A friend has a gardening business. He parks his car in front of his home, as there is no driveway. The tailer is attached to the car and contains all of his tools. Despite some pretty heavy duty locks, all of his tools have been stolen and cost several thousand dollars to replace. His insurance company did not help him.

He has now added alarms to the trailer (which have scared off another attempted theft) but would also like to have a video surveillance camera monitor the trailer.

Is there any kind of camera he could use at the back of his car to monitor the trailer throughout the night?

Alternatively, he could use an outside camera attached to his home to monitor the car and trailer in the street. However the home is a rental property so he can't drill holes in it. Given that, what might be a good camera to consider? He intends to move home so will want to take the camera with him.

Thank you for any suggestions.


I think a risk in mounting a camera/recorder to the trailer is if someone steals the trailer, the video is gone. Does that sound right?

There are some decent options for removable adhesive, ie:

It will not be pretty, and cabling will be a mess (due to no penetrations), but how about sticking a small bullet or dome with adhesive to a window pointed at the trailer?

I used the strips above for temporarily hanging cameras outside during trials. Two strips stuck together kept cameras hung outside for a month at least.

PS: I would mercilessly make fun of this method if used to permanently hang cameras.

Thanks Brian, no one has attempted to steal the entire trailer (yet) but have simply broken in to the locked boxes and stolen tools. He will have an ongoing need for video surveillance so the tape idea won't be applicable in this case but could be good in the short term. Thank you for sharing your idea.

Taking your question at face value, I notice you actually don't mention recording as a requirement. This may have been a simple oversight, but on the other hand it could be because your friend does not value the forensic value of the camera much, and he might consider any scenario in which the tools are actually stolen to be a complete failure. This is understandable since, even with the best footage possible recorded, he might not know much more than the precise time and the general make/ build car/perp, and this only hours after the fact, leading to a low percentage of recovery.

Nor do you mention wanting the camera for the mere deterrence value of its presence explicitly, although one would imagine that any such deterrence would be welcome since it might prevent the theft in the first place, as opposed to after the fact forensics. But, primarily, I think you do actually mean live monitoring when as you say:

Is there any kind of camera he could use at the back of his car to monitor the trailer throughout the night?

Even though one might be tempted to say that your friend, 'doesn't really want that...', since it hardly seems likely that your friend will really 'monitor the trailer throughout the night', my guess would be that you mean POMM, Peace of Mind Monitoring. POMM is rarely seen in commercial settings, but is often seen in residential settings, and most commonly found in the humblest of all surveillence systems, the baby monitor.

So, I believe your friend's intended use goes something like this:

Hear strange noise, check tool cam (without getting out of bed)

Hear alarm go off, check tool cam

Hear talking, check tool cam

Feel uneasy, check tool cam

This state of mind is due to the previous theft of 'locked tools' and is understandable. For the record though, I am not recommending a baby monitor necessarily, just saying the mode is the same. Also, although, not foremost in your friends mind, I think he will eventually want recorded video, although more to review suspicious incidents that he missed live, then for prosecution.

Luke, indicate if you agree with my assesment or if I'm clueless. I'm looking at some actual options now, but would like to know if I'm on the right path before making more of a fool out of myself than I already have....Also, what's the rough budget?

Thank you Rukmini for such a considered response. You're one of the people who consistantly makes this a great forum by being so helpful.

Sorry for my oversight but recording will also be important so he can show something to the police which might help track down the thieves. I'd imagine that edge recording would be fine if only one camera is being used. The monitoring aspect is also important as it will allow him to see what's happening if the trailer alarm is triggered without having to confront anyone during the night.

While no budget has been mentioned, I can say that he lost about $8000 of tools and lost income from just one theft. Given his insurance company did not help, I think he would be prepared to redirect his insurance budget towards a decent video surveillance system.

Thank you very much for your help.

Luke, your friend has to repark the trailer on the street everyday. Does that mean he might not get his exact spot everyday? That might throw off any absolute positioning from the house, no? But if he can park right in front of the same part of the house everday, a low tech temporary solution might just be a edge camera w/zoom looking out a window, like this famous example, although with a less expensive camera...

P.S. In defense of my occasional and accidental helpfulness, may I say that I'm just trying to keep my quip quotient (defined as the ratio of quips/helpful answers) less than 1. I noticed that you, on the other hand, responded directly to everyone giving you a suggestion, a practice many, myself included would do well to emulate. :)

Hi Rukmini, my friend is lucky in that he lives in a quiet street and so can park his trailer in the same place each evening. Thank you for raising that critical question. An edge storage camera would be a great option if he wants live monitoring as well as recording. Otherwise a trailcam might be able to be mounted closer to the street but would not provide live monitoring. I've relayed the options to him so he can choose. Please keep the quips coming; the banter in this forum is one of the fun reasons for reading all the posts!

I know a guy that has a Deer Cam inside his electrical trailer (Hard top). A lot of times it's just about scaring the person off. What kind of trailer? A hard roof with doors? Or a flat bed trailor with tool boxes out in the open that are locked?

A lot of times it's just about scaring the person off...

True, that's why

He has now added alarms to the trailer (which have scared off another attempted theft)

But sometimes after a theft of valuables, you have an overwhelming desire to status check your 'baby' periodically. All the more when you did not feel you were careless (at the time) in their safeguarding, e.g. 'heavy duty locks'.

@Luke, assuming that your friend is not related to Brian Rhodes, he may find value in a GPS locator and/or CopDots, mentioned by Brian in the link above.

Hi Rukmini, I overlooked your suggestions in this post. I think a GPS locator would be a very wise addition to the trailer. I don't think the use of microdot products is well known here so the police wouldn't know to look for it, unless they watch CSI!

Hi Jeremiah, the trailer is open but has some built-in cabinets which are lockable. I suspect a deer cam might be so obvious in a trailer that it could be the first thing to be removed or disabled. However if there is a tree or power pole in front of his home, a deer cam could be discreetly mounted there and record anything that happened near the trailer. While it would not provide him with live monitoring, it would be a good solution for a rental property and one that he could move with him to his next home. Thank you for your idea!

I don't think a camera is going to deter another theft. Is he hoping to catch the individual? If so, I would think it is going to be a tough task since he parks in the street and cannot mount permanent cams on the rental house.

Any chance you can give us a pic of the street from the POV of the house? Also, the distance from the house to the target? How are the light levels in the area? Any chance to install a motion flood?

The issue with the "deer cam" is that it might be stolen, along with the tools, hence, no video to review. I don't see that as a viable option here, unless you could harden it to the point where they couldn't steal it also.

Has he asked for more police patrols? Neighborhood watch involved? Asked neighbors to keep an eye out?

Thanks Jon, you're right that catching the individual is going to be tough as it's going to be hard to find a good position for a camera. I've asked for a photo, measurements and light levels. I think there is enough street lighting that a low light level camera could work well, but I don't think a motion flood would be possible.

I agree that a deer cam might just be stolen if mounted in the trailer but it may be possible to mount one in a nearby tree or power pole very close to the trailer.

Yes, he's spoken with police and neighbors so hopefully they can help. However I guess this kind of theft can happen so quickly at night that it's more likely a camera will see the event. Thank you for your suggestions.

Install an SC7001 inside the trailer. It is a covert cam with IR illumination and PIR motion detection, and looks like the kind of thing you might see inside a trailer.

Normally, I'd recommend a trail cam like the M-990i, but in this case, your subject is going to be close enough to the camera to see, notice, and steal or damage the camera.

Ari, I don't see any IR on the SC7001? Am I missing it?

D'oh! I was wrong. That line doesn't do IR. Their SleuthGear line does but they don't make a SleuthGear in that form factor.

Thank you Ari, that is a very interesting option for mounting inside the trailer. There might even be enough street light for it to be an option even if it doesn't have IR illumination. I didn't know about this product so thank you for providing the link.

What about the DropCam Tab for the door?

Still on preorder.

That is a shame.

Do you live in a major city? A good chance the crooks have no idea what a trailcam even looks like or what it does. If I was going to be a shady criminal and I saw a bright flash in todays world, I would be gone in a heartbeat, as you have no idea if that picture is being streamed instantly to some iPhone, Central Monitoring Center or etc. Kind of like that Axis M10 video with the jewely store Robbery

On a humorous, ecentric, and possibly wrong side, why not use a paint bomb like this property owner used on a tresspasser. Paint Bomb Tresspass Video Link

Serious note - Use Puck Locks (Instead of Padlocks) and use a car alarm (Car Alarm Shop) (They make trailor alarms even with notification now) on the trailer. That is what a lot of contractors do. They also use boots or other type of locks for the hitch.

Hi Jeremiah, yes I live in a major city and hadn't heard of trailcams before I read this forum. I think a trailcam has real potential to watch over my friend's trailer and protect his livelihood.

I like your puck lock suggestion too and will mention that to him. Thanks very much!

Try mi5 range of cameras which are battery/solar powered

Michael, unless you have a panel the size of the trailer itself, I doubt you can monitor it live, yes/no?

Thank you mentioning this camera Michael as I was unaware of it. I think that regular movement on the street would exhaust the capacity of this camera. In particular, it would be desirable to have many pictures of any attempted theft and, even with a solar panel, I don't think the camera would cope.

Hi Luke & Rukmini

The Mi5 range cameras can come with an inbuilt modem so they can transmit images via GPRS to a cloud VMS which in turn can notify you and email images if the motion detectors pick up movement. Size wiae they are not that big. They have an extreme version which has a larger battery and solar panel which can work essentially non stop but will depend if they offer the product in your country yet. Not cheap but could be mounted on a say a telephone pole giving coverage of more than just the trailer. May not be the solution in this case but worth keeping in mind

Cheers

Mike

Thank you for the extra information Michael. It does look interesting.