Clever Reed Switch Catches Thief

When [Abhimanyu Kumar] noticed money going missing from his small bookshop, he decided to set up a little trap to catch the thief.

The problem was that the bookshop’s money was stored inside a cupboard in their house (back end of the shop), which meant that the culprit was likely one of their own employees. They already have a CCTV system installed in the actual store, and although he could simply add another camera in the house, [Abhimanyu] didn’t really want to do that.

He instead devised a simple security trap: dubbed the Jugaad Security System. In Hindi, Jugaad quite literally means “hack”. He added a small magnetic reed switch to the cupboard where the money is stored—well, was stored—which is then linked directly to an intervalometer. This then connects to an inconspicuous DSLR sitting on one of the work benches. He aimed the camera at the cupboard and, in case the lights are out when the system is tripped, set it to an extremely high ISO.

Three days later, during an especially busy day at the store, the camera snagged a few images of their would-be thief. Unfortunately, it was one of their own employees. A quick call to the police later and the thief confessed, returning the stolen money. Needless to say, they fired him.

58 thoughts on “Clever Reed Switch Catches Thief

    1. Or if your canon doesn’t have a remote, you can load up CHDK on the memory card and then connect 3.3 – 5 V to the USB power leads to trigger it. There’s a script that comes with the software that listens to the USB port and can even work a bit of “morse” code to adjust zoom etc. remotely.

    1. Well, glad it wasn’t here in the US because here all is around stupid lawyers and too many “human rights” BS. In other cultures the perpetrator gets lynched or worse. The fear for real consequences is the best deterrent. Here we always look for ways to trick others and avoid taking responsibility of our acts…

          1. The comment I replied to was suggesting “lynching or worse” as an appropriate deterrent to stealing. How is comparing that to a third world country in any way absurd?

    2. Seeing as the post says that they have other CCTV cameras installed elsewhere, there is probably already a sign to that effect. You don’t need the sign to state where each camera is, only that they are “on the premises”. The rest of the house would almost certainly be considered part of the premises.

    3. Glad I am not in the USA then! (assuming that is where you are), in the UK laws are fairly sensible when it comes to CCTV in the home/business..
      This kind of thing would be fine, as it was installed for a specific purpose, to catch a thief, and as it was in a place of business, there was no expectation of privacy, and even better it was only set to trigger if someone accessed the cupboard…

      Although personally I would have just brought a safe…

    4. Not in the US. Those signs saying a camera is in use are just as a warning to deter a theft to start with. In a public space, such as a store that is open to the public or any place of business really, there is no gurantee of privacy and therefore you can be filmed on video with no warning. The only issue is when audio recording is in progress, as in a lot of states it is law that one of more of the parties being recorded on audio must be made aware of the fact. I don’t know where in the world you must inform people that they are being video taped on CCTV and what area is covered by the cameras, but not here.

      1. You only need to be informed that you are being recorded if the owner wants to publish your image, But it really depends on the state in question. In some states it is illegal to video tape police officers (just because… you know… we don’t want the evidence that we beat you senseless for no reason to be admissible)

          1. Audio only requires the concent of one of the parties within the conversation, this applies to recording conversations on the phone and in person. If the person does not wish to be recorded or to be a party to the recording, they can omit themselves from the conversation in the eyes of the law. With that being said… in the cases where there is no physical presence (over the phone) they must be informed that the conversation is being recorded.

            As per recording police, per federal statute in the USA, as long as there is no expectation of privacy (IE: Being in public or in a public place, aka the only place that the police are authorized to be without court authorization via writ or warrant) it is LEGAL to record them. You are required to inform them that they are being recorded, but they have no right to decline.

            There are some places that any audio recording is banned, such as social security offices, banks, etc etc etc, without certification of the recorder for PCI Compliance. Just the same some states also add in some additional requirements to consider the recording as legal, but general rule of thumb is above and these states are far and in between.

            In the terms of the police being recorded, in the time of any sort of interaction with a city, county, state, or federal official, unless you are under arrest, you have more rights then they do. The fact that they push and try to make up laws to badger or control somebody is not only illegal, but also sad. I will say that the state of affairs with police officials and officers in the usa (yes I am going to leave it lower case) is nearing oppressive, but that is because of a corrupt system that promotes and rewards tyrannical properties in the personality of a PUBLIC SERVANT to attempt to maintain control over the masses.

            Those who say that europe is better off… clearly are blind by either their ego or by stupidity. The fact that we are even having this conversation on a site like this is depressing…

      2. The rules are really depending of country and kind of place.

        In France, if you have a security camera in your shop (“place open to public”) you need to made a simple declaration to administration, keep only for a limited time the video and inform your client by an message in the entrance.
        If you filming part of your company not open to public but to your employee you need to made a declaration to administration and inform your employee. (And it’s only for security and thief, you can’t use the video to see if your employee work or sleep.)
        If you filming part of the public domain (for exemple street or parking), you need to have an authorization.
        If you have security camera in your house, you can do what you want if you don’t distribute the picture/video (but you can use it as proof without problem).

    1. Depending on the camera, you can lock the mirror, which reduces the amount of noise considerably. Plus they’re probably in a busy place that is quite loud, so he may not have heard or noticed the sound.

  1. Hmm.. still would have preferred to see some kind of Indiana Jones style trap.. when the money box is lifted the plinth on which it rested slowly lowers down and then a huge boulder rolls towards the tea leaf and chases him out of the shop.

    1. For a second there, I was wondering if “tea leaf” was some kind of new racial slur I’d never heard before. Apparently, I have extremely low expectations for the quality of Internet discourse.

  2. To all the worry warts, um… NO. In the front part – a business – there is NO expectation of privacy, it’s a public place, you can record whatever, whoever, whenever they step into your shop without any notice what so ever. In the back part – the house – it’s a private place – once again, no expectation of privacy EXCEPT for the owner of the private space. As to recording audio – there is no law preventing surveillance with audio, the audio laws are all about phone calls and fall under the wiretapping laws.

    1. In France a distinction between what you filming “manually” and what you filming “automatically” are made: in place open to public (ex: shop) security camera need to be declared to administration and customers and employee informed of the recording, but if you take a camera and start taking picture of people in your shop, they can’t say anything if you don’t distribute them.

  3. I have a surveillance system set up at the place I work, and the police know about it. I have never posted any notices about the existence of the cameras and motion sensors. I don’t want them to try and circumvent my cameras, I’d rather catch them in the act. I’ve also spoken with the police, and, at least in my state, I can record anything anywhere on my property (visually) without notice or consent, as long as I am not recording other people’s property, or areas considered ‘private’, like the bathroom or bedroom. Also, in regards to recording audio, I was informed that here, it’s legal to record a conversation only as long as one of the parties being recorded is aware that they are being recorded…your target does not have to be the one informed that the conversation is being recorded.

  4. A surveillance or CCTV system is designed to watch people at all times, especially when they are NOT committing crimes. That’s why, depending on local law, they have to be informed. In this case, the image was only taken after the money was stolen (or in the process of being stolen). Taking a snapshot of someone breaking into a house without asking that person for permission is completely legal, too.

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