Tag Archives: chicago

Video Surveillance Equipment Benefits for Home and Business

vivotek-2mp-ir-varifocal-bullet-ip-camera-ip7361-4-gif

Having video surveillance security cameras was considered a luxury. Those who have tasted the benefits now understand why it should be part of your basics at home. Here are benefits that make these security installations a priority. Continue reading

Is Your Mobile Phone Bugging You? (Seriously.)

Is your mobile phone acting “funny,” or not as fast as it once was? Have you noticed that someone seems to know more about what’s going on in your life than they should? Do people say that they tried to call you, but your phone was busy (and you weren’t using it)? Does your battery seem to be sucking more juice than usual?

You can mark it down to coincidence, or it may mean that your phone has either been infected with a virus, or there’s a program running on the OS that is “listening” to, and/or, recording your email, text messages, logging your calls, and conversations. Both are different in use and theory, but in both cases they’re a security threat and nuisance. Continue reading

Hidden Camera Catches Abuse by Babysitter

A young father, wondering why his toddler behaved perfectly around the babysitter but no one else, learned the reason was fear. The man, from Joliet, set up a hidden camera to capture the sitter’s interaction with the child later watched in shock as the woman–a family friend–used physical force to keep the child in tow. According to NBC Chicago, the father, Paul Carlos, stated, “It was the most amazing thing I ever saw in my life. It was horrible.”

The camera, disguised as a clock radio, was triggered by a motion sensor. The sitter was caught beating the 2-year-old boy because she couldn’t find the TV remote control. The sitter, Erin Denny, actually lived with Carlos’s mother. She’s been arrested and jailed on felony aggravated batter charges and parole violation.

When Carlos went to work each day, he would drop his son off at his mom’s house on the way to work. Denny would watch the boy. Carlos installed the hidden camera because he thought it was strange that the boy listened to the sitter, but didn’t listen to anyone else.

It was out of fear.

Hidden cameras, or “nanny cams” have been employed to catch suspected cases of babysitter abuse, theft, and other criminal activities. Some, like the one used by Mr. Carlos, capture video footage for later viewing. Others provide real-time footage that can be accessed from any computer–even while a parent is working.

Words from the Boss: Cloned Debit Cards Add to ATM Thefts

Technology makes our lives easier, or at least it’s supposed to; yet, as our understanding  improves and complicated processes, such as computer programming, become more user-friendly,  some decide to use these innovations to prey upon others.

ATM skimming-devices, for instance, have evolved from clunky, obvious pieces of fake auto-bank teller equipment to sleek, undetectable theft devices that are unnoticeable to untrained eyes. As the equipment becomes better, the criminals grow in sophistication, often stealing hundreds of thousands in others’ money before being discovered. Continue reading

Chicago’s Highway Surveillance System

The Chicago Police Department, and retiring Mayor Daley, want to take Chicago’s surveillance system to the highway. The ambitious plan, announced earlier this year, is to install some 200 cameras along interstate highways between Chicago and Mexico. The camera’s function is to take pictures of license plates and cross-reference them to known images of smuggler, drug traffickers, and gun runners. Continue reading

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). Continue reading

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!

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. Continue reading

Facebook Glitch Allows Eavesdropping

Facebook admitted yesterday that reports of a bug in its software, allowing users to electronically eavesdrop on others by allowing users to view their friend’s chats and messages was true.

Although Facebook announced that they had discovered, then repaired, the problem, it was actually discovered by TechCrunch’s European offices.

Once reported, Facebook shutdown their chat service and repaired the security hole within hours. The statement from Facebook reads:
“For a limited period of time, a bug permitted some users’ chat messages and pending friend requests to be made visible to their friends by manipulating the “preview my profile” feature of Facebook privacy settings…”

Notice that Facebook didn’t define the amount of time that  constituted a “limited period.”  Thus, the eavesdropping could have taken place since the beginning of the year. However, users began complaining on Wednesday morning, so it is assumed the problem is a recent one.

Safety and security have plagued Facebook, and it was reported that the CEO of the social site “did not believe privacy.” Unless, of course, it has to do with the company he founded.  Unfortunately, there are no electronic countermeasures; users should, however, lock down their privacy settings.


Facebook’s security-related mistakes weren’t over. Once again, TechCrunch Europe reported a second security breach, this time concerned with the Prime Minister elections in England. TechCrunch EU noticed that a poll asking users who they wanted as Prime Minister – set to end Tuesday – was still up today. Voting rules in England state that both intention and exit polls are illegal on election day. Facebook’s position was that the poll did not ask how people voted, but who’d they like to see as Prime Minister.  Although Facebook denies wrongdoing, the poll disappeared from the site.  Again, no countermeasures on that one.

If you believe that you’re being monitored without your knowledge, send us an email or give us a call at U-Spy Store. We’ll provide you with the advice, and equipment, you need to flush out privacy invaders.