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Glitter bomb tricks parcel thieves (bbc.com)
952 points by tartoran on Dec 18, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 886 comments

I just told this story on HN, but my car window was smashed on 10/13/18 and the theives got my wallet and house keys.

They used my credit card at foot locker (~$500), The Store Manager confirmed two guys made the purchase and corporate said they would turn over the video if police just ask.

A month later the bank fraud dept informed me someone was trying to cash a fake check ($1,600) against my account at an ATM using my ID (stolen from the car) and they ATM video shows the guy and the would turn it over to police if they requested it.

I even emailed the detective with chain and all he had to do was reply all, but the detective refuses (“we don’t look into these things”). Meanwhile these people have my address and key (even though I rekeyed) they may be lurking and try to come in, and I should be entitled to know what these people look like.

I was attacked on HN for suggesting this but I’ll suggest it again, since the author of this post already had video of these theives, there needs to be a platform to post these videos for the public to crowdsource the identity of these people.

I know there are not police resources to pursue every amazon purchase, but in my case it was grand theft and it’s ongoing, and likely to escalate, but the police are unwilling to do anything to help (but be damn sure they’d look into it if they were the victims).

Not that it would have helped in your case, but we've had porch pirates in my neighborhood. We had a recent one steal some packages.

I found out about it on Nextdoor. I wasn't affected by it (I have my packages delivered to my work), but I watched the thread with interest.

The neighbors had cameras - they got good pictures of the vehicle, the woman who stole the packages, etc. Multiple neighbors did this, coordinating via Nextdoor.

Our community resource officer of our local PD station was also notified about this.

One even saw the car, followed her in her own vehicle, and got a license plate number, and called the police. The woman was arrested and everyone who had packages stolen by her gave the police their pictures or videos to help.

The case is still on-going; this only happened last week.

I have no doubt that if something like you describe doesn't exist, that someone can or will make it. What would be nice would be if the site also added similar "glitter bomb" kits (maybe simplified in some manner to make them less expensive) to upload for entertainment, and to help catch the thieves.

These people have no shame, and seemingly no sense or care that they are being watched. Everyone with a camera had signs saying they were filming 24/7 with security cams, but that didn't seem to matter.

Criminals are often not the brightest sparks.

My car was stolen last Friday night. It's on a car-share platform so the thief took the lockbox that's normally fitted to the window, bashed it open to get the key, and came back later for the vehicle. There is a very conspicuous warning on the lockbox that the car is fitted with two GPS units.

When I first reported the theft, police said all they can do is wait for the car to show up and provide a report for insurance purposes.

Then I checked the location via the car-share site. GPS updates were still working. When I called the police back to let them know I had a current location and could keep them updated in (almost) real time, it changed everything. Suddenly multiple cars were sent out while I kept reporting updates, and they managed to make an arrest within maybe 20 minutes.

It's great to see how a little technology can give victims a taste of vigilantism without endangerment.

They sell vehicle trackers that can be hidden anywhere, the only expensive part is the data plan really

That’s fantastic. My very rough ideas are definitely more along the lines of identification and not vigilanteeism...However I am with you 100% and am pro glitter bomb.

I think even just the sink bomb part that instantly emptied as soon as it was opened would have the same effect. It's probably easier to build and could all be done mechanically. You can get some pretty foul stink bombs, then triple it.

If it made their car unsellable out their house miserable I'd call that a success and no one got hurt.

They have artificial cadaver scent for training police dogs. It might work well. https://www.sigmaaldrich.com/analytical-chromatography/analy...

There's a line that might open you up to being sued over it. Ridiculous as that would be, I wouldn't really be surprised if the right lawyer in the right court could pull it off.

There's already the precedent from Katko v. Briney[1] that establishes a person can't use deadly force to defend property. Since courts prioritize the avoidance of bodily injury over property it's definitely not much of a leap for a lawyer to argue that a thief who suffered any bodily injury at all from a boobytrapped package has a case.

Whether a prosecutor and/or a jury would be interested in that argument is another story.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katko_v._Briney

Sure. It's all hypothetical, of course. Though, hypothetically, I might also thank them for intercepting a booby-trapped package that was meant for me.

there needs to be a platform to post these videos for the public to crowdsource the identity of these people.

And then what? Will the platform also have a portal that will let people en masse vex the local PD with messages containing links to the video until the precinct assigns an officer to the case?

What happens next? Is there going to be a timer or some kind of SLA on the platform that notifies people in the crowd "Sergeant Jones still hasn't found the bastard who stole from the Smith family down on the corner"?

Crowdsourcing criminal investigation, even a passive element of it like identifying mugs from home security footage seems like a rabbit hole I'm not sure we're prepared to go down (it also scares the bajeezus out of me because the general population, sorry to say this, aren't the rational actors I want involved in trying to identify perps so casually through 'platforms').

>What happens next?

Well let me tell you of another event that occurred to me in 08/17.

I was kidnapped at gunpoint from a gas station, forced to drive my attacker with a gun on my for 30 minutes, eventually after getting off the highway I jumped out of my own car in gear, escaped and called the police.

First words out of the sergeants mouth responding, “cut the shit what really happened.” Despite my insistence I’m an officer of the court myself (attorney at Law) that there will be video from the gas station to prove my version of events, I was even told, “we aren’t even sure if you own a car and if you are just calling police for a free ride.”

In that case, in 24 hours I located my car and the gunman and called the police and had him arrested. That’s not to say I did this voluntarily, luckily the gunman connected my WiFi only iPad to the internet and I got the location, of course I called the police first, who told me “they heard about my ‘story’ yesterday, and wouldn’t be going to the address until I drove to the station and showed them the Apple email”. I did just that and after keeping me in the parking lot for an hour and laughing at me 2 officers came out to me (this station was closed on Sunday) and took down the address, drive away and called my cellphone and told me go home they don’t see my car. Unsatisfied I went to the address myself, found my car and the gunman, called the police yet again and they finally came and arrested him.

He bonded out Monday at 8AM. He has since been rearrested, bonded out yet again, rearrested yet again for violation of his bond vis—Avis his GPS tracker I insisted on.

His trial is still ongoing. Someone stole my keys and ID, I should be entitled to know what they look like when 2 videos are available, crimes against me are ongoing, and the cost of the officers time (since you are so concerned about their $150/hour rates...which seem entirely made up, no offense) is a 1 minute reply to an email I forwarded him from foot locker loss prevention.

Edit: I forgot my conclusion, which is, people who engage in these activities in many cases will even have friends and family who turn them in (i.e. the unibomber). But even if they don’t a public platform would be very helpful in deterring these activities, which is the ultimate goal.

Did you piss off someone as an attorney? This sounds super suspicious; like you've been targeted and there's corruption involved. ... or it could just be a shit system; speculating here.

The cop is going to make a split second decision on your story and that will forever colour future interactions with cops. They will all see the note on the file. If your story sounds like a hollywood movie its not too surprising the first cop will be suspicious.

First impressions matter a lot when it comes to bureaucracy.

You've had some really bad luck, Will. Where do you live? I wanna get far away from there.

The irony is I’m born and raised in Miami (where the car break in happened), but believe it or not I had to travel to the 9th safest city in the US to get kidnapped (more accurately that’s where I escaped, and the kidnapping happened in a small beach town 30 minutes south).

Is it possible it's not bad luck but skin color?

If you're a lawyer then this seems like a personally targeted situation. What happened to the police who ignored you? All of these interactions should be recorded so do you have a civil suit against the police department?

You cannot sue police for most things without permission from the government.


Additionally, police have no legal duty or obligation to protect or investigate.

I'm not living in the US, but that's crap. It's one of the top principles of state of laws that governmental power is constrained by law which also applys to the state and its bodies hence also for the police and its officers. I think you're mixing something up.

  that's crap.
No, he's correct in the USA. It's been affirmed in case law multiple times.

Proofs please. And case law doesn't disprove the validity of state of law principles.

Then what is the duty of the police?

Historically, the very first regular police patrols on this continent after settlement were for the express purpose of protecting the property interests of large landholders: escaped slave patrols, estate protection duty to keep angry/hungry working class from breaking/burning down mansions, et c.

Unless you own a lot of property, you still can’t expect much from the police in the USA.

That is beyond horrible. Sorry you had to go through it. Did you contact the FBI? If I understand correctly, kidnapping is a federal offense. They might have taken it more seriously.

That must be a very betraying experience, I am sorry you had to go through it.

Damn man, where do you live? I can't imagine that happening in my town, then again, you never really know until it happens to you I guess.

Looks like Florida (Miami) from his follow-up replies. Honestly I would stay far away...

Jesus this reads like it's from some super corrupt 3rd country, not the US.

You have no idea how 3rd world countries work.

In India. Police supplies thieves with information. Guards the scene while the theft is ongoing. Shares the spoils, and then harasses the complainer. And to put it mildly this is like a low key operation I just described. They do a lot lot more.

It's like an extended branch of the mafia. Most sought after jobs in India after civil services.

Recently in Bangalore a police guy was caught on cam stealing a journalists scooter.

you have no idea which countries are "3rd world" these days

Get out of your bubble?

I used to think the USA was a "safe" place. Maybe it is compared to Somalia but it isn't compared to Japan or Singapore. Once I got used to the safety of these places I never feel safe in the USA anymore.

I used just take it for granted there were bad parts of town and that even in the good parts of town I should be leery of people, avoid dark alleys etc. Don't walk alone at night, etc. Then I lived in these other places where that concept mostly doesn't exist.

As a concrete example it's common sense in the USA if I get a 3rd party car stereo I should get a removable car stereo and always take it out or hide it. I had 5 of them stolen and my car once and just took it all as "sucks but that's that way life is, my fault for forgetting to take the stereo out or not buying a lojack". But it's not the way life is. It's the way we've let it become.

There's lots of other examples and AFAIK most of it is cultural. An example, find a dropped wallet. In USA/Europe a large percentage of people have the attitude "score for me! found free money!" Not sure if that percentage is 20% or 80% but in Japan (and I think Singapore) the more common response is "OMG, someone is really going to be in a tough spot. I'd better try to get this back to them if possible". In the USA even if people had that attitude they might rationalize that the police won't care and it might be true the police don't care which is just another symptom of the same problem.

I have no clues how to spread the nicer culture to the West. It seems the opposite "me me me" culture is impossible to fight.

PS: these kinds of posts always illicit irrelevant responses of the problems in Japan and Singapore. I'm not saying Japan and Singapore are perfection. I'm only pointing out this one area where they do better.

I have to agree, leaving the USA gets rid of the rose-tinted "USA #1" glasses, and the USA isn't as comparatively safe a country as many Americans believe it to be. In the USA if I lost my wallet, I'd guess around 10% chance of getting it back intact, 30% chance of getting it back with ID and cards, but without cash, and the remaining 60% of never seeing it again.

That being said, I wouldn't throw all of Europe in with them in this case. I lost my wallet for the first time a few months ago in Prague. The ones who found it went through the effort of finding my contact information (I only had my student ID in my wallet, no contact information whatsoever, my mistake) and when we met up and it was returned to me all the money was still in it.

Although that is only one personal case, I spent around 5 months touring 15 different countries in Europe and witnessed people leaving laptops at the coffee shop unwatched and just leaving their bikes completely unsecured in front of the subway entrance as part of their commute, which are both pretty strong signals that many of those nations share a culture where theft simply isn't common.

> Get out of your bubble?

Swipes like that break the HN guidelines. Can you please edit them out of what you post here? Your comment would be better without that sentence, and maybe also the patronizing bit at the end ("these kinds of posts always illicit irrelevant responses").


I'm going to disagree with this being a "swipe" because at the root of it is a critical cautionary tale that I think we should be sharing more of on HN:

What you (the global "you") experience in the world and the results of your interaction are not a template, and other people's experiences may sometimes preclude them from truly realizing, appreciating and unpacking why people in other social groups might see interactions with the constabulary (keeping in context with this comment thread) or other systems of society a bit differently.

As a matter of personal perspective, the suggestion to break one's bubble isn't a swipe, but a request to entertain the thought that one's preconceived notions about a given affair might change with the knowledge that their experiences are not universal and exposure to a different angle.

Maybe the curt nature of the suggestion doesn't meet some arbitrary ideal of discussion, but that doesn't invalidate the root point of the suggestion.

That all makes sense. I called it a swipe because it was a personal ("your") pejorative ("bubble"). It's not necessary to do that—posts get better without it—and it routinely has negative side effects.

I called it a swipe because it was a personal ("your") pejorative ("bubble")

Matter of perspective, no, Dan? Would it have been less of a pejorative to borrow a phrase from the latest incantation of our discussions of race and culture in the US to say "check your privilege?"

Granted this isn't the place for a protracted discussion on dialogue here, I just find the strong reaction to what is a very important clarion call to evaluate ones own biases and experiences against a spectrum of biases and experiences shared by every other human being, however curt or brief, taking it the point of calling it a "pejorative" an interesting reaction-IMO.

Sorry, I didn't mean it an insult, hence the question mark.

Maybe I should have left it out or maybe written something else like "Is it possible you're experiencing the world in a bubble?". In any case too late to edit (the option does not appear)

I did notice the mitigating question mark!

It's definitely a matter of interpretation. But the online medium is fragile, and if one person (me in this case) reads it as a swipe, usually a lot do.

I think this is good feedback. I'm surprised that you got 2 negative responses to your suggestion. You never said that you disagree with the comment. You were requesting that 1 or 2 sentences could have been rewarded.

Disagreement with interpretation of moderator action != negative response to the suggestion that makes up that action.

Guidelines != rules Foster diversity of thought through enabling diversity in style, and watch the community grow healthy


Can you explain how that plan works?

Is it not obvious?

It's flagged. What was it?

A sarcastic comment suggesting that President Trump is a kleptocrat similar to ones from other countries. BTW, you can enable the "show dead" preference if you're curious about flagged or heavily downvoted comments.

Implying that US wasn't a 3rd world country?

Public shaming. People would be scared as hell if they saw a video of them stealing stuff on the internet.

Holy shit. Was this in the US? What city? Can you share more of the story?

I would get a CCW if you don't already have one.

Except he’d be dead and the perp would have 2 guns.

Why is the solution to more gun violence more guns?

Quick existence proof that sometimes it seems to be beneficial (for the non-criminal) https://www.nraila.org/gun-laws/armed-citizen/

Not necessarily, there are instances where both perpetrator and victim are armed and the perpetrator walks away because of it.

Really? Because pretty much the only situation in which I'd be tempted to shoot another person is if they also had a gun (otherwise they're pretty likely to shoot me).

If I'm unarmed, then I'm likely to be safe, even if I do get robbed.

If two people are running from a bear, you don’t need to outrun the bear.

Armed victim is more trouble for perpetrator so they will find easier prey. Most crimes aren’t specific but are opportunistic. If you’re a crackhead with a gun or whatnot do you stick up the crazy with a gun on their belt? Or wait 5 minutes for an unarmed victim?

This seems like such simple logic that it surprises me that I frequently hear arguments like yours.

I think that a ccw will not help against a hitman. But it sure helps against crackheads.

A bear isn't rational though. If I'm trying to avoid getting shot, then I don't need to outrun anyone. I can simply hand over my wallet/phone or whatever the criminal is after, and I'm safe.

I'd much rather choose an increase in the chance of having my possessions stolen (the chances of getting caught in this crime are pretty small anyway), than an increase in the chance I get shot.

Plus, by taking the "don't carry a gun" route, you can increase legal restrictions on guns. Gun control won't stop hitmen either, but crackheads in the UK don't have firearms.

> If you’re a crackhead with a gun or whatnot do you stick up the crazy with a gun on their belt? Or wait 5 minutes for an unarmed victim?

Since I'm not a rational long term thinker, I shoot my victim and take the wallet from the body, why give them a chance to shoot back?. This is the end result of the arms race you advocate for.

I’m not advocating for this.

Crackheads aren’t random, they have some reasoning.

I’ve had a lot of experience with crackheads and robbing an armored car and a random care aren’t equally likely to them. Again, a crackhead doesn’t want to rob a particular person. They just want money.

The bear doesn’t want to eat you. They just want to eat someone.

We’re talking concealed though. So if everyone used your simple thought process, the rational move would be to shoot everyone since you don’t know who has a gun.

If its concealed, then how is it a deterrant for the crackhead to seek another victim? Said crackhead doesn’t know you have a gun, goes to rob you, you pull your gun and whoever is faster lives. Maybe.

If you can plainly see the gun on their belt, is it really concealed carry?

Here's an example: https://youtu.be/TmWnvN_XsMY

Of course this is the pretty example that got on TV. The scenario that ends ugly, deadly and gruesome doesn't get posted to YouTube and (fortunately) not linked on HN.

It's a nice justice boner but it doesn't mean this is the usual outcome.

Especially without military training like this guy had.

Two points: 1. This was a specific example to an assertion I made that another poster had a hard time believing.

2. It's true that when we talk about life and death situations there are many ugly outcomes. It is, however, not clear that the ugly is the most common outcome when a law-abiding gun owner is involved. This is due to the fact that records are more than likely made when someone is shot, but not necessarily if one deters an assailant with a weapon.

Because in a society populated with a lot of violent people its important to have the ability to defend yourself. Pretending you live in a fantasy world where you can pass laws to protect people from violent individuals is delusional.

It works reasonably well for the majority of the developed world. What's different about the US?

Does it? “The majority of the developed world” has about as much violent crime or more depending on which country you examine. The only difference is that of course there is a lot less involving guns.

Yes it does, and no they do not.

What's your solution? More bans that aren't enforced effectively?

Every other country seems to manage it.


I'm curious, where are you from? I live in Canada and no one carries around a gun except criminals.

We have a fair number of stabbings since anyone buy and carry a knife (with exceptions) but shootings are pretty damn rare. I think almost every shooting in my city (a total of 74 in a city of 1.25 million) last year was criminal-on-criminal.

Not the parent, but: I’m Czech, conceal carry for self-defense is legal here (with competence tests and no criminal history requirement) and some 300k people (out of 10M population) have the permit.

Shootings are pretty damn rare here.

Compared to e.g. UK, which all but banned any weapons imaginable, mugging, stabbing and other violent crimes are very rare as well.

You realize your own example is cherry picked right?

I’ll be the first to admit that the stats for gun bans seem shaky, but that doesn’t make your own anecdote valid as a counterargument.

Sounds like you thrive on anecdotes. You should move to Australia, not many people have guns, so we just man up and kill each other with a single punch.

Getting a CCW involves training to use the gun properly to shoot assailants. People with CCWs are more likely to win a standoff than random criminals with stolen guns and no training.

If the assailant also had a CCW, he would know how stupid it is to approach someone else with a gun.

Only in the most restrictive states is training required, and even then it's generally just a class about the laws and regulations. That's not going to help you in a "standoff".

I admit I don't have stats for this, but it seems that most people who get CCWs do practice regularly or at least have extensive experience with firearms.

I don’t have the stats handy at the moment, but ISTR that the number one way that police officers get shot/killed is by having their own gun taken away from them by criminals and then used against them.

Now, granted, many police officers don’t have anywhere near as much gun training than your average NRA member, but I submit they still have way more training with guns than the average person on the street.

Given that, I can’t see how the solution to the gun problem is by having more guns.

The people that attack police have little overlap with those who attack regular people. Also, keep in mind police have their guns visible where they can be easily grabbed.

You’re confusing open carry with concealed carry.

What does the gun do when it's concealed then?

Stops an assailant. What do you not understand?

  the number one way that police officers get shot/killed is by having their own gun taken away
No, that's not even in the top 5 causes of LEO death.


Calling names in arguments breaks the site guidelines: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.

Nationalistic flamewar is even worse. Please don't post this way to HN.

Ok, so you already realized that the police aren't useless - they are far worse than that. When are you going to take responsibility for solving your problems?

I think this sarcasm has gone over some folks' heads.

If we as a society are OK with qualified law enforcement looking the other way, then we're OK with passing the buck to the unqualified.

Yes, it's a "rabbit hole [we're] not sure we're prepared to go down". We're not prepared. We're going down it

> If we as a society are OK with qualified law enforcement looking the other way, then we're OK with passing the buck to the unqualified.

You're excluding the admittedly somewhat bleak but still quite plausible third alternative: we as a society are in practice OK with this class of crime going largely unprosecuted.

The legitimate authorities are resource constrained, the political process isn't prepared to allocate sufficient resources to change that, and the societal costs of allowing vigilanteism and extrajudicial punishment are broadly believed to outstrip the scope of the problem they would ostensibly be solving. This leads to an equilibrium where a lot of petty theft goes unpunished and we, as a society, are in practice content to accept it that way.

That is an outcome, but not a particularly desirable one depending on the degree of pettiness and the frequency of these crimes. Interestingly if you loosen restrictions on self defense and maintain penalties for self-defense gone awry (I.e., your defense system injure an innocent person) then you’ll probably end up in a pretty good place.

Why are the as restrained as they are right now though? A state without a functioning law enforcement that is out to effectively protect citizens and actually enforcing laws is missing the point of being a state at all.

Money: Reduce spending overseas by cutting down drastically on operations outside the nation's borders.

Education: Establish longer training, covering more in-depth the actual goals of law enforcement, effective strategies in community engagement, de-escalation tactics, psychology and the justice system.

Respect: Integrate law enforcement back into the communities they are supposed to serve. Reduce the barriers, demilitarize law enforcement from the look, equipment and the strategies employed all the way to the mindset of the law enforcement officials. Citizens (all humans in fact) should be viewed more like customers than like potential perpetrators.

I don't think the correct takeaway is that we're OK with law enforcement looking the other way. Clearly that is the best route to solve this issue, and we need more oversight into why certain cases are handled in this way and why. What is the priority of law enforcement, and where is the time allocation for case follow-up.

I agree with your principals, but I think that since people aren't spending political capital to change it, we're giving tacit approval -- however begrudging, however wrong-in-our-heart-of-hearts-we-think-it-is

We're not all OK with it, but that does not mean we should fix it by employing unqualified vigilantes instead.

If we as a society are OK with qualified law enforcement looking the other way, then we're OK with passing the buck to the unqualified.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc make for valid public policy it does not.

What source do you point to that we as a society are OK with qualified law enforcement looking the other way?

Existence proof. Law enforcement looks the other way and we do nothing about it. Not being OK with something and passively accepting it is functionally identical to being OK with something.

I don’t know what to do about such things.

One of my exes is certain what to do, which is why she’s campaigning for the fourth largest political party in America.

Me, I could work on AI to fully enforce all laws, but I suspect that would have unfortunate side effects like accidentally returning to feudalism after all but a few thousand Americans end up with multiple millennia of prison time because the laws themselves are overbroad… and if I limit it to just laws I agree with, well that’s exactly the sort of thing I would be appalled by if done by someone with whom I disagreed about which laws were just.

What should we do, do you recon?

Move to a different country. Work hard and be an asset somewhere you do agree with society's laws, then help that country improve it's lot so more people can benefit. Why should a country be different than a company?

I did move to a new country. That’s not helping the UK (my place of origin), because the UK leadership is utterly tone-deaf to all critics. My German comprehension isn’t likely to ever be good enough to have useful opinions about German law.

I prefer my countries better than a company.

I don't know, did you try having more guns?

Just to take two examples in the news from the last few months here in Sweden. The police has announced that they will not investigate illegal workers in the construction industry next year, because if they did they would find crime and then that department would not have any time left to investigate other industries.

It is also official policy to not investigate theft below of $500, unless special circumstances. Because of this many stores has refused to file police reports, which the state statisticians then complained on national news since that limits their ability to make accurate reports to the politicians on how much crime exist.

You mean like when we crowdsourced the identity of the Boston Marathon bomber?

Because it's all well and good when the crowd gets it right and the lynch mob goes to town on the bad guy. But the issue is when that mob gets turned on the wrong guy. The internet has a long memory and seldom admits when it is wrong. "Bob Jerry is the Boston Marathon bomber" sticks around much longer than "Whoops, our bad, Bob Jerry is just some dude"

I used to be a name-and-shame supporter in the past, but if you think deeply about it you might realise it's a bad move.

Name-and-Shame systems usually relies on unverified complains: One can "identify" the wrong individual or someone can make a fake complain - In both situations someone's reputation will be damaged, sometimes boyond repair.

That's why police should take care of this. They are supposed to be unbiased, run propper investigation and do proper verification. The fact that they don't do that is a different problem.

Before you argue something like "lets verify those complains", Let me put in a different way: If you keep playing the if-that-do-that game, at the end you are going to see that we have basically two options: Live in a system where lots of criminals goes to jail but more inocents gets falsely implicated, or one where we get less false-positives but we also miss some criminals.

Modern society has chosen the second option for a reason.

The police officially crowd source investigations all the time. That's what a wanted poster is.

We've been doing that for hundreds of years, so if there is a rabbit hole, we're at the bottom of it.

Right, the police have. Not a (presumably) revenue generating online platform.

My position on this is, if we're talking about being frustrated with the police not generating the outcomes we want from petty theft, and if we're also experiencing gnashing of teeth and tearing of sackcloth aimed at tech companies for things ranging from data breaches to questionable ethics and corporate responsibility (and in some cases, but certainly not all-with seeming impunity), why on earth would we ever conjoin the two roles like this?

This is why the police should be doing this. If the police refuses to follow up on these kind of crimes, it encourages vigilantism.

If it's something that ordinary citizens can solve, it's something that the police should be able to solve. It's their job, it's a crime with real victims, there's no excuse not to do anything.

And there are plenty of stories about police arresting people on trivial issues, questionable charges, there's stuff about how they shoot black people over nothing, there's civil forfeiture. But actual theft? That is what the police should be working on. If they don't, what are they for?

> Crowdsourcing criminal investigation, even a passive element of it like identifying mugs from home security footage seems like a rabbit hole I'm not sure we're prepared to go down

sooo, like, down with trial by jury?

If you're looking for me to respond, in seriousness to this I'm going to need some assurances that you know the difference between a criminal investigation and a court trial since my comment was about one of those things, and pretty emphatically not the other.

Very different topic, but sure. Many well functioning legal systems in the world don't have it.


You can't defend the inept killer cops, you just can't, stop it.

Where did I give you the impression that I'm defending "inept killer cops"? I'm asking for an inquiry of our expectations in crowdsourcing duties that the general public are not trained to conduct.

We don't need to defend the inept killer cops to posit that vigilante justice is even worse.

This can go horribly wrong quickly. How do you deal with the public going after the wrong people? Does the poster take responsibility for all harm done?

This is what Reddit tried to do with the Boston bombing.

How do you handle deep fakes?

How do you deal with the police going after the wrong people?

> How do you deal with the police going after the wrong people?

You prohibit the police from making warrantless arrests for misdemeanors that did not occur in their presence, so they no longer have the power to do that in most cases.

Which is one reason for the lack of action that this vigilante system is proposed to remedy, so, again, how do you deal with the public going after the wrong people?

While injustices do happen, the police are more accountable than an internet mob stalking your family and harassing your employer because you were incorrectly identified as a mail thief in a public and permanent forum.


I'm sorry you're going through this, but I think it's prudent to consider the converse of the situation you're desiring. What if CrowsourcedCriminalMugs.com did exist, and your face was erroneously added to it? Isn't this whole idea just a form of high-tech mob justice?

This is basically the point of the police, imagine this crowdsourcing thing did exist, but instead of everyone being able to see it only a select number of people who had been trained how to capture people and bring them to the courts without harming them could see it and respond. And they got paid to do this by everyone in the local area paying some money for them to do it. That’s what the police should be.

That's not the police, that's a paid private militia to round up people you "identify", with no accountability. Do you not see how that can go wrong?

The “people in the local area paying money” is tax. And from what I hear of US police, there doesn’t seem to be much accountability, certainly nothing like in the UK.

You pay a fee to have it removed, of course (sites like this already exist). What could possibly go wrong.

I was burgled some years ago. The officers who responded, when I got home and found this, were attentive. The detective subsequently assigned the case? Not much. Even though, in warning my neighbors, I discovered that there was then a rash of burglaries occurring in the neighborhood.

In part, I understood this. While the personal loss was significant to me, the dollar amount was only a few thousands that insurance covered. Nobody was hurt. No guns were stolen.

In fact, those were two of the first questions I was asked: "Do you have any guns?", and "Were there any company files on the laptop?"

On the other hand, a couple of days later, I found that a piece of paper left on the floor held a perfect if light image in dirt of a sneaker sole that did not match my shoes and I was pretty sure did not match the patrolmens' footwear. So I called the detective and left a message, and followed up once. He didn't even bother to respond.

I mention this, because people should understand, to the extent they don't already: Police "triage" their cases. And for many of those cases, it doesn't matter that a crime was committed. They are putting their time, energy, and political capital towards other things. (They have their own workplaces to deal with, including reciprocity and the need to build their careers. Whether or not you agree with the system (as an insider or an outsider seeking services), it's how things work.)

P.S. That sucks, Will. I can relate to how frustrating that must be. And in my case, a bit more attention might have meant less people ultimately burgled.

"Do you have any guns?"

Not anymore, they just robbed me!

"Were there any company files on the laptop?"

I don't know, it's fucking gone!

"Do you have any guns?"

This reminds me of the "hack" I've seen posted here before about preventing the TSA from going through your luggage --- pack it with a gun.

If your stolen gun was used in a future crime and they don't have a record of it being stolen, and can trace the gun to you, your in a world of hurt. They are doing you a favor to make sure to register the gun as stolen.

They're also more interested in resolution if controlled substances were stolen during the theft.

I completely understand. My car has been broken into multiple times. Thieves stole my wife's credit card and went on a shopping spree. The store had footage but the police refused to do anything. It could be worse course, but it's very disappointing when this happens.

Not sure what your options are - move to a relatively wealthy suburb probably with a well funded police department where they might not be lazy enough to investigate?

This is how neighborhoods "go downhill" as they say. Car break-ins were a major decision for us to move out that town.

My car was literally parked in front of madonna and sly Stallone’s former Miami houses (next door to viscaya, if you’re familiar). There was a police parked on the same road (there always is), I didn’t even call the police to report it, I just walked up to the parked cop. And it happened about 10AM on my morning run.

Why do police refuse to look into it? More important cases? Not as easy to find them guilty as it seems?

They're rational. If they look into it, they have to actually work. If they don't, there is zero disadvantage for them. Why WOULD they look into it?

Because of accountability. If enough people start complaining, this becomes an issue to politicians. But there aren't enough people complaining.

Petitioning nobility to please do their damn job has not generally been a successful endeavor.

You get what you measure.

What would you say is a good measure of an effective police officer?

Would you say percentage of closed cases? Because that's what leads to this.

Would you say, the number of crimes reported per capita? Because that's what leads to this.

It's unlikely you'll find these people or catch them on average. You may get them for something else and be able to close several cases at once, but the truth is you'll just never see them again. So if you take the report and open a case, your numbers look bad. Crime per capita is up, percentage of closed cases goes down.

In a lot of jurisdictions (like SF, where I live) the case will likely not be prosecuted by the DA even if there is irrefutable evidence, and the accused will be out on the streets the next day. This is why the police don't bother.

It's really sad, honestly. I think we need to vote for politicians that will fund our police forces appropriately, but also hold them accountable for actually doing their jobs. This means that when auto theft goes unchecked in SF, the police department doesn't just get a free pass to not arrest and prosecute thieves.

I'm sorry, but the US is still the wealthiest country in the world, and the only reason why car theft is so rampant in SF is the police and DA complete inability to prosecute against it.

Cases? Do you think police is like in the movies? Policeman just wanna get home to their shower and dinner.

I have to admit I'm a bit surprised how many people leave their credit cards etc. in their cars.

The worst part is there is really nothing a normal person can do in a situation like this. You would end up paying substantially more to hire a lawyer to hound the police or pursue the investigation independently, and even if you brought the thieves to justice you would never recoup your costs.

I'm not smart enough to come up with solutions but there has to be something better than police unaccountable to anyone without excessive amounts of capital to effectively waste.

>even if you brought the thieves to justice you would never recoup your costs. //

Assuming the video in OP is genuine the thieves, IIRC, are pretty well off. They certainly have assets that could be forfeit -- nice cars, comfy furniture, smartphones, etc..

These people don't appear to be stealing through necessity.

Exactly. Small claims court at a minimum. They might even get a summary judgement if they have person's face, voice, address, bedroom, and so on to point identification is solid. Two of these were straight-up in their house with pictures of what's in it. Realistically, present the stuff to the judge who might order police to collect remaining evidence. From there, they can be arrested, sued, stuff seized, or whatever.

Lots of possibilities. Don't even need a lawyer if going into small, claims court with video from something they stole. Only thing that concerned me was the confetti and fart bomb possibly counting as battery, booby traps, or whatever. I'd probably just set it to record and track even though other stuff was hilarious.

The original posts problem wasn't a matter of "taking the thief to court" it was getting the police to actually find out who it was. You need someone to id them, but OP couldn't even get the video released to him so who knows if a lawyer or private investigator could get it.

This is called "learned helplessness". It's the result of decades of state education teaching you that your only recourse is the nanny state. Funny how that works out.

So you're saying what, that he should have hired mercenaries to kill the guy and get his stuff back?

That would be more reasonable than hiring a gigantic mercenary State that turns against you, takes you money and laughs at your requests for help.

And if your mercenaries incorrectly target the wrong (innocent) person?

And if your cops incorrectly target the wrong person? How is that different? You're still the one paying them.

Thank you.

Also, to reply to your parent - Heinlein recommended public flogging. I believe it's criminally underused.

Not the nanny mercs!

Somewhat related but Ring has a Neighbors app where you can share video with other users in your area (or request video from certain times). The site is not working for some reason (https://ring.com/neighbors) but it stirred a bit of controversy when launched.

This sort of gets at your idea of a platform to identify people.

You can get the business to hand over their records by suing "John Doe" in court, getting a judgement, and then getting a subpoena. The banks losses aren't yours but you can sue for your uninsured damages.


Call an attorney!

He is an attorney...


Have you tried escalating the complaint? The 'let me talk to the manager approach.' Try to mail, call, meet in person anyone on the city council, police commissioner, etc. Tell them your situation and demand to know why no action is being taken. It still may not work, but it may be worth a shot. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

I'm not the OP, but anytime ive tried this with the police it doesn't usually end up beneficial. The best response you might get is go see a judge who will tell you they don't care.

That's really interesting in regards to the police behaviour perhaps it's the areas you're located in? (I'm located close to Toronto)

I've had a similar experience to yours, having my back window smashed out and wallet stolen. luckily we have camera's for our property and were able to get a license # and had our own footage to provide the police with. I wonder if that's why it was taken more seriously.

In your shoes I would tell the police you are being targeted & feel unsafe. that might trigger a better response which isn't entirely untrue. It's not like these people are oversea's they are in your city.

A roommate once stole $30,000 from me while I was out of town. The police were disinterested in helping despite written records of him admitting to the crime, until I pulled strings internally and got detectives assigned to the case.

The police in the USA of course have no legal obligation to investigate or protect, contrary to popular understanding. Sovereign/qualified immunity really needs to be scaled back.

This sucks and shouldn’t be true, but it is: make this the police’s problem. Make it easier for them to do what you ask than to ignore you or give you platitudes. Call every damn day day. Explain the situation from scratch, in detail. When they say they can’t do anything, ask for a supervisor. Repeat. Do not get upset. Be friendly, but annoy them into submission. They are human. Lazy humans with a very easy out ‘this isn’t the biggest problem I have to deal with today’. Make fixing this a sexy damn option as compared to hearing from you day in and day out. Email them a form letter that they can just sign, that you can give to foot locker and the bank. When they ignore it or say they can’t do it digitally, show up with copies. Every Day Until They Sign. Again - you shouldn’t have to do this. “What about people who don’t have the time for this?!?”

Yup, they’re fucked. But you have the time, so you aren’t.

It’s a dumb, bullshit game, but it is what it is.

The problem with this is the police can harass you back in an asymmetrical way that involves you in jail with a record on trumped up charges.

If they wont even bother with the most non-controversial of crimes, what makes you think they have the moral gumption to not do that to get rid of an annoyance?

Hence the "remain friendly". They need to believe you are just an annoying dude, not think you are trying to win a battle of wills.

One could even build a public platform to enable and crowdsource bothering the police.

The solution is to make sure that the police starts giving a damn.

Why are they allowed to have a policy like this? They should be properly funded and staffed, and then they should start doing their damn homework.

Hopefully you don't keep your wallet and keys in your car anymore! If thieves broke into my car, they'd get some old CDs, leather gloves, and a skateboard I have no emotional attachment to.

Seriously people: your car is not secure storage.

Other than the particular crime, please explain how your statement is different from "If you didn't dress so provocatively, you wouldn't have been raped."

His statement was prospective. Your quote is retrospective.

Same reason it is OK to tell people that avoiding smoking reduces their chances of getting lung cancer or that wearing a condom reduces their change of STDs, but it is not OK to tell someone with lung cancer that it is their fault for smoking or to tell someone with an STD that it is their fault for not wearing a condom.

If you think "wallet ∶ car ∷ woman's body ∶ dress" is a valid analogy we can't help you pal.

Telling someone to "not dress provocatively" harms their identity and right to self-expression. It devalues them as a independent human being, reducing them to perpetual victimhood. The crime against which it "protects" is heinous and life-altering and, sadly, our culture still has a somewhat permissive attitude towards it in some situations (e.g., on college campuses).

If anyone's right to identity and self-expression is exemplified by keeping wallet and keys in their car, then, yes, I suppose they should certainly assert their rights by keeping valuables in their car!

Think of the car more like an nonsecure HTTP webmail.

It’s essentially free to anyone who can MITM your connection.

Because it's not about tempting the thieves, it's about accepting the fact that thieves exist. It's about risk mitigation.

He didn't say "Hide your stuff better", he said "Don't treat your car like secure storage".

It's a little different. Dressing provocatively is more like putting a picture of your keys and wallet on the outside of your car.

It's a bad idea because there are countless examples of the internet mob identifying the wrong people, destroying innocent lives, and creating dangerous situations through a lack of training, oversight, and accountability. Good intentions alone do not lead to good results.

Law and justice are very complicated and have a massive impact on lives and society which is why we entrust a few authorized members to carry out enforcement. That doesn't mean we don't have problems with bad police, lack of resources, or politics - but the solution is to fix those areas, not crowdsource criminal justice.

Would have gone to a news outlet to try to get them to pick up the story. Someone will write it, will put pressure on the department, and you'll get your video.

> since the author of this post already had video of these theives, there needs to be a platform to post these videos for the public to crowdsource the identity of these people.

No, what you need is a functioning police force. Not vigilante justice.

Edit: You could also make a public platform where you would crowdsource generating the political pressure to make the police work better, as well as monitoring them for doing their jobs. This has the advantage that the people put in the spotlight have a public function already, and that it's a more democratic process.

The main problem I have with your proposal is that it results in the doxxing and witch hunt of people caught on camera and even if mostly effective/just, this will eventually backfire because of the thirst for revenge and spectacle and because we can't have nice things.

>there needs to be a platform to post these videos for the public to crowdsource the identity of these people.

so, the chances of my package being stolen and my car being broken into vs. the chances of being publicly misidentified as a package/car thief. Loss of $10-$10000 vs. ruined life. I'll definitely take the former.

When did police stop trying to catch robbers? It's usually just a few serial robbers terrorizing a neighborhood. The few times they catch someone they stop like 50% of the crime in the area. I remember one time they did a bait bike program and rounded up a ring that was stealing hundreds of bikes. But they see one little robbery and go meh!

I guess wouldn't you file suit against the police as they are now responsible?

The Supreme Court has ruled that the police have no responsibility to protect citizens [1]. You cannot sue the police for failing to respond because they legally don't have to respond.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/28/politics/justices-rule-po...

the police have no responsibility to protect citizens

Then... what the hell are they for?!?! That is utterly insane.

To enforce the law based on the people in charges' priorities. That could be stuff that helps you or hurts you. Then, we maybe reduce the bad of that with Congress and courts.

Just how it works. It's how it always worked. The "Protect and Serve" is just marketing. There's definitely plenty of cops that are about that, though. Even some that don't care will risk their lives protecting people because it's part of their job enforcing the law as their supervisors or police chiefs order them. It's all pretty complicated.

In pro-gun areas, we are already operating with this assumption, though. That ruling just reinforced what many of us already believed and sometimes experienced. Each American is responsible for their own safety before anything or anyone else helps them. Each living person is responsible for deciding their own risk avoidance or tolerance in their various systems since there's no guarantee the system can protect them without their own action. It's up to use first and foremost.

Such an important case that most people have no idea about.

Um what?!? That's astounding.

Judges have ruled multiple times that police actually have no responsibility to protect you or investigate on your behalf. It's a best-effort SLA.

> I guess wouldn't you file suit against the police as they are now responsible?

The police (and government agents more generally) are not legally responsible to victims for decisions not pursue crimes, or not to prevent predictable future crimes.

A website is a fine idea but I'm not sure you need it. Just get the footage and make a post on Facebook. If it goes viral in your area, they may be identified by PM.

Are there other agencies you can contact?

I own Offasir.com and will lease it free of cost to anyone operating this business.

it's a non-violent crime of opportunity. police time is $150/hour at least. all your loses seem to be covered by the banks, aside from the car window, which um happens to people all the time. its the kind of thing they pursue occasionally in realtime or with a sting, but not each individual case.

change your key, open a new checking account & close old, lock your credit. and that ends your exposure.

you won't get the video footage because it creates a legal liability for the owners to release it.

EDIT I'm all for broken windows but thats still implemented as a sampling approach. They don't actually pursue every low-level crime.

The problem with this point of view, is it's the same people doing this over and over, just causing distress everywhere. For a couple hundred dollars of theft they cause both the loss of the item, but also all sorts of other trouble for everyone else. And the corporation's costs do eventually make it to the consumer as higher prices due to higher cost of doing business. In addition, it is a drain on all of us that we have to take steps to protect ourselves. It's worth the $150/hour to keep this kind of behavior to a minimum.

Police and profitability should not be mixed. Whether it costs $50 or $500 / hour to work on a case technically should not even be an issue. The cumulative effect of a lot of small-time crime on a society can be as large as a bank robbery, even if the robbery is a much more serious crime by itself.

But it is an issue because it's tax dollars, and people don't like paying taxes.

People wouldn’t mind paying taxes as much if they knew where it was going, instead of it going into a black box and no one really sure if it all makes it out to the needed services.

Very, very, very little of the taxes are spent on law enforcement. You could quadruple their budget, and nobody would notice the tax increase.

We could accelerate the inevitable consequences of this approach by curating a list of which areas police don't give af, then publish it for enterprising criminals and anyone considering living there.

Society is broken badly if getting robbed happens “all the time” without repercussion. It is absolutely not acceptable or normal for your car windows to be broken and your stuff stolen. If I lived in a place where it happened “all the time” I would get out ASAP. This is major dysfunction.

Crime certainly happens everywhere, no place is immune altogether, but it should never be an everyday occurrence.

San Francisco has an "epidemic" of car break-ins. [1]


If you're concerned about package thieves, just buy an outdoor cabinet and put it next to your door with a note asking that packages be placed in it. I use an Ikea Josef:


You don't even need a lock for it. If you can get the deliverymen to consistently place packages in it, the thieves will have no idea if there's actually a package at your door to steal or not without actually attempting a theft. For extra deterrence, you can install a motion activated camera next to it. The idea is to reduce the thieves' expectation of reward while increasing their expectation of getting caught.

Yeah, we had a package stolen off our porch, so we did that. It's a bench with a liftable top. The plan was to put a padlock on it. All of our packages are addressed to:

  Place in Bench - Code 1234
  24601 Where I Live St.
  My City, ST, ZipZipZip
We order a lot of stuff, and probably average 3 deliveries per day. In the last 3 months we've had exactly one package placed in the bench. And we never even got around to putting the padlock on it. All a delivery person has to do is lift the lid. Delivery people don't care. I probably wouldn't either if I were one. I'm not going to read the boxes I'm delivering for instructions; I'm just going to leave it on the porch like I do with 99.99% of other boxes.

They key is to put yourself into the mindset of a hurried deliveryman and design your system around that.

I have a sign low on my door right where a deliveryman would leave a package that asks him to put it in the box (with a simple message in big text, a big red arrow pointing towards the box and a photo of it with a package inside). There's no lock to get in his way.

Deliverymen from all carriers use my box about 90% of the time they want to deliver to my doorstep.

For Amazon specifically (since their deliverymen are gig workers), I entered address-specific delivery instructions into their system, mainly so I could complain about their performance more effectively. I think the actual, physical sign is more effective.

I have a camera watching the porch and have a few videos of deliverymen doing a double-take on the sign, then putting the package in the box.

To be frank, I had to read it a couple times before parsing "Place in Bench - Code 1234" as "Delivery person, please put this parcel inside the bench, using the code 1234". We expect addresses to be data, not executable code.

Refactoring suggestions welcome. I don't think there's enough room for an if-clause, definitely not a for-loop.

I work from home full time, and get typically 1-2 a day. I have a sign that says "Please ring bell for deliveries, home all day!" on my front porch and it's never rung. Packages just tossed on the porch. Amazon I get a notification on Alexa sometimes before the UPS guy is back to his truck though, so that helps.

Contrast to that - before I moved to this house, my old UPS guy used to honk and wave if he saw me walking down the street, knew me by name and would knock every time.

This is one of the things I love about living outside the city. UPS, USPS, DHL, and FedEx drivers all know me by name, honk and wave, and stash my packages safely 98% of the time. Its as good as it gets. Never miss a pickup, or a sign-for. Magical, yet should be expected. I am still bummed that milk delivery ceased last year. It was like living in a 1950s propaghanda film.

> average 3 deliveries per day

Wow. I really wonder what the environmental impact is of just one household doing this. I think I order something once every.. two months maybe? Three? And if I could get the desired electronics in a local store, I probably would.

Edit: To reply to the three initial comments at once, I see your point. I was thinking "but it's not just about the last mile, it's about getting that package all the way from China or where ever it comes from"... but of course, if I buy it in a store, it still had to come from china. Someone driving to your home all day seems terrible at first impression, but even without grouping the deliveries, I guess it might not be much worse than someone who gets groceries by car. I'd be interested to hear about research that looked into the topic.

Compared to someone who leaves their home by car once per day to get routine items, it's arguably a lot better since that delivery truck makes hundreds of deliveries per round trip.

Compared to someone who is super frugal, list driven, plans ahead, has one trip a month to get necessities, and grows their food in their yard, sure, it's more impactful.

Perspective always matters.

>Compared to someone who is super frugal, list driven, plans ahead, has one trip a month to get necessities, and grows their food in their yard, sure, it's more impactful.

That's being disingenuous. There are plenty of more moderate options which are perfectly viable for the vast majority of households, like planning a small amount know advance and getting essentials twice a week, or integrating it into other trips (commuting, school runs, coffee runs, walks).

>topic being environmental impact

>coffee runs

Can't you just brew coffee yourself if you care about the enviromental impact?

Absolutely, but my point was simply that people are already leaving their houses for necessity/pleasure, and if they need a daily trip to a shop they should combine their trips, regardless of the reason for said trip

> Wow. I really wonder what the environmental impact is of just one household doing this. I think I order something once every.. two months maybe? Three? And if I could get the desired electronics in a local store, I probably would.

You didn't state it, at least not as of this writing, but the responses are about gas/emissions waste of individual trips to the store. For that home delivery is probably break even.

There's also the aspect of individual delivery packaging. All that cardboard, foam, plastic and tape vs store delivery which are palletized and bulk packaged.

I mean, how is it environmentally worse that one guy go make a whole bunch of deliveries to a whole bunch of people vs one guy driving to the store and back?

Couldn't you make the argument that the distance being traveled for OP's packages is only the distance between the package immediately before and after his package?

The product is getting delivered to your house both ways, it's just that one is by you and the other isn't. It's not as bad as you make it seem.

Really only half the distance between the stop before and after. There is also the fact that extra packaging is necessary when an item is shipped versus picking it up in a store. I don't have a great idea on how to measure this impact.

Yeah, we don't go out to shop much. There are reasons. We tried bundling up Amazon purchases into one big purchase per week, but it'd still come in {n} boxes via {m} carriers. And that's just from Amazon.

I wish there was a way to centralize it into a single staging area for the region and then deliver things in batches, but that won't satisfy the "I NEED IT ASAP" kinds of people.

Assuming there are other nearby deliveries (there always are), then you driving to the local store to buy it would pollute much more.

They get it all the way to the porch? I've had USPS people leave packages in the driveway because walking the 25' feet from the vehicle to the porch is too much to expect.

I honestly don't blame the drivers. It's not just your house. Consider the number of packages they have to deliver and the cumulative amount of time this adds to their route. I've seen estimates that a typical residential driver delivers something like 150-200 packages per day. Even an extra 30 seconds per package adds up to over an hour of additional time to complete their route.

The incentive structure simply isn't set up to reward a delivery driver taking that extra effort. In fact, it explicitly punishes it.

150-200 packages is a really light route, 150-200 stops and 300-400 packages is more accurate. This time of year, 250+ stops for a residential route isn't particularly unusual.

Biggest reason to leave a package at the driveway is a fence/gate. A fence keeps stuff in or out, either way, not respecting that is how you end up with stories like this: https://www.khq.com/news/responders-ram-driveway-gate-to-sav...

That link is the first time ever I've gotten a HTTP 451 response. Interesting.

Yeah this is really annoying.

I have had good experiences with people delivering packages and caring about how obvious it is that there are packages out. When I lived a row of townhouses, the front doors of the houses were very exposed and visible from the street. So if we didn't answer the door when a package was delivered, they would bring it around to our back porch and set it over the fence.

However, this did result in one of the delivery drivers not correctly counting how many from the end our townhouse was and put it on the wrong porch...

One time UPS left a 2ft x 3ft x 1ft box under my doormat. I appreciated the effort, but the package was not inconspicuous.

I've seen that a few times too. I wonder if it is actually to try to protect it from rain?

It's for both really. That's the best one can come up with given the circumstances.

We have a foot high fence in front of our door.

That plus a grassy slope is enough to hide the packages from street view.

Our neighbor across the street gets their packages stolen often. I have never had any package stolen, and I order 100x times as many packages.

Train them with a small post it note + incentive small candy

"Carrier Service - Place package in box, take a candy, and remove this note."

> Delivery people don't care.

Delivery people don't have time to care. They aren't even reading the labels you know.

How about offering a tip if they place the package in the box? Add instructions: place package in box, take $5 tip from box.

Of course that might make a code lock more important.

I've found it similarly ineffective. I have my packages addressed to "_sparky, Leave at Back Door, 123 My Street". Maybe 5% of them end up there.

Interesting cultural difference? Where I live, packages either: get delivered in person, placed somewhere secure, handed to the neighbours (who sign for it), withheld, or delivered to a service point. They never end up on a porch. And not just because we don't have porches either. Point is, they're not left in public view.

I used to write delivery instructions in the address, but some delivery companies would pretty consistently cross out that line with a black marker.

Putting a note on the inside of the bench with the bench lid already open seems like a pretty good idea. having a bench with a liftable top is also pretty good since having a bench outdoors is pretty nice too.

But then the thieves would know if there is a package because the lid would be down.

Only if they are able to remember which house has a bench with a liftable top. It might not be effective against a thief who lives nearby, but it would keep the package out of plain sight for the ones cruising around in cars.

That is way too logical, that is where the problem is. The delivery driver didn't end up being a delivery driver by virtue of literacy and logic.

You have something tantamount to public/private key cryptography going on there!

Back to the video, I observed that a lot of the thieves talk to themselves out loud. They probably refer to themselves in the third person when talking to someone. Clearly they can't think before they open their mouths, something people should master being able to do as a ten year old. Maybe the only time they think is when they open their mouths, thinking and talking being the same thing to them.

If the secret shadowy people that rule the world in some conspiracy really had plans to depopulate the world then they should get the NSA to track everyone that talks to themselves, select these folk for the depopulation program and then this theft from doorsteps problem would be gone.

In the video we see many people stealing from porches with video cameras, and the author mentions that the police didn't take action even with video evidence.

While I think your suggestion would reduce the chance of theft, I think you overestimate the accuracy of the risk-benefit analysis happening in the thieves' minds, as well as the actual risk involved.

I mean, the activity is already dumb from a risk analysis point of view.

But if they don't know of a package, they won't try to steal it. That is the area that I do think would do well.

I don't think the video evidence is meant to help the police (or, obviously, to deter the thieves), but it's useful for requesting a replacement from the shipper.

I don't think the shippers are responsible for any theft that's not caused by their staff.

Does anyone know the answer to this? I'm very curious. I actually wonder if it would be worse to report that you have video evidence of a thief, because they may no longer be liable (hey, we delivered it to where it had to go, rest is up to you) vs just saying 'it never got here'.

I can’t speak for everywhere but in the UK most places will send you a replacement if the item was left on a porch and then stolen rather than with your neighbors. That is considered a failure of the delivery company.

Further to that point, I haven’t even needed to provide evidence of stuff having been stolen. Which seems like a system ripe for abuse but it’s nice that it’s weighted in the customers favour for a change.

Thankfully I’ve not needed to complain about stolen stuff in a long while, partly because generally stuff is tossed over a fence or left with neighbors. But mostly because I now live in a quiet village so I don’t get the same kind of passing opportunists like I did when I lived on a busy school road.

You haven't taken receipt of the package by it being dumped on your doorstep. (I suppose with the exception of a delivery instruction 'leave on doorstep'...) While it may not be 'their fault', the choice of courier and their instructions is; it's also to some extent a cost of doing business.

That said, I seldom see or have stuff left outside in the UK - assuming no 'if out' instruction - the vast majority of the time it's a 'sorry we missed you' note or occasionally with a neighbour/over the wall.

There's a lot of discretion, I think - it's a customer service issue primarily, but I generally haven't had to provide any evidence (but I imagine if I claimed some high percentage of all my orders from one merchant were stolen, they'd demand proof or ultimately refuse to accept my orders).

Problem is that some package thieves just trail behind the delivery truck. So even if hidden, they know it's there.

Just had a story the other day about a delivery man working with his friends to steal packages. He would deliver then text his buddies the address.


From what I've heard, they typically trail a block or more behind the delivery truck, which means they can't often see the exact houses that get packages. Their goal isn't to see where they're delivered, but to get to them before anyone else does.

If they trail too closely, they'll make the deliveryman suspicious.

For package thieves most of the problem is solved, at least for those at home most of the time, like me, by simply having the delivery man RING THE BELL. Why this is not common practice for all deliverers, UPS/FEDEX/AZ etc. is beyond me. If the delivery man is already at the front porch all he has to do is reach for the bell. If the recipient knows about it he can be prompt, prompter than the thieves...

And what the deliverman is going to do? Slow down his deliveries?

> And what the deliverman is going to do? Slow down his deliveries?

Call the police, obviously. Everyone has a mobile telephone these days.

Doing so even makes sense from a business perspective, as the carrier may have to pay the insurance on all the stolen packages.

One fun psychological hack for this - paint an eye above or on said locker.

This is backed by research. For example: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-tyne-22270052

This is one of the psychology results that failed to replicate [1] in the replication crisis [2].

[1]: Artificial surveillance cues do not increase generosity: two meta-analyses https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S109051381...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Replication_crisis

@jdb here on HN had, at one time, installed a very conspicuous camera housing on his house although it had no camera in it.

Psychological deterrence.

It would be fun to have it do motion tracking (could use directional audio to track). It always freaks people out when a camera like device is following their movement.

At the point we're talking about a fake camera, directional audio is probably overkill. Just put one of those cheap motion trackers up that turns on lights and hook it up to a relatively loud actuator that shows that camera moving very slowly for 3-4 seconds.

Sound to draw attention if they didn't already see it, movement so they think it's smart enough to track them or someone is controlling it, and it looks like a camera so they think they are being recorded.

Or just get an actual camera and set it to track back and forth. Most of them have that option.

Yeah, at this point wifi cameras are cheap enough there's not really a reason not to just put a real one up instead of this. 15-30 years ago this might have been a good strategy though. Back then any sort of network enabled camera was kinda pricey, as well as the system to run it.

While not the cheapest, the best wifi camera I've found so far was to build one from a RasPi Zero W, and install motionEyeOS on it.

From there, you could add simple motion tracking (OpenCV or something like that - there's enough in the distro to easily do blob tracking) and command a servo to track.

Total cost for the basic camera setup (not the tracking extra) was around $60.00 - and you don't have to pay for a cloud service or anything like that (I just have it email me the images), plus it's open source, so you can vet the codebase if you need or want.

"Ooh! I'll take the package and the fancy tracking camera" :-)

Yeah, this is why I would be a lousy package thief, I'd love to find a cool gizmo like this and take it apart and figure out how it works. Not some boring iPad or game console :-)

If you wonder "Who would carry a portable spectrum analyzer while walking along a street of Christmas light displays in order to see what wireless systems were being employed to control them?" that would be me.

takes out a screw-driver, begins lengthy and conspicuous disassembly process (-:

Actually I've always wondered about such a heist.

If I were going to pull off a heist in broad daylight, I'd get some cones and print a Rolex logo on a safety vest and pull a van up to the Rolex town clock in Carmel and "take it in for repairs" in broad daylight.

Anyone have directions to the actual factory??

Wyze cam Pan will do this for 30 bucks if you're looking for a product and not a tinkering project.

a very conspicuous camera housing on his house although it had no camera in it.

Radio Shack used to sell these in the 80's.

A guy I knew who worked at one said easily half of the cameras in his mall were fake RS shells.

Actually, it had a camera. It was an ordinary webcam but it was mounted in a very conspicuous, conventional security camera housing.

Full text of the article cited on the author's website:


Reminds of 1984. Big brother is watching

I've been wondering why Amazon oriented their smart lock delivery service to an orwellian camera and lock in the home setup instead of hooked to an outdoor box like this.

The lessor known service allows you to deliver to your car's trunk:


Because they want to deliver groceries into your fridge in the near future.

I can only imagine that in my case (if I were dumb enough to use such a service):

After getting past my barking dogs (plus the small one that likes to bite people) - they'd get to the fridge, the dogs would shut up ("the person is going to the magic box where good tasting things come from - maybe they'll drop something!"), open up the fridge...

...then get to "play tetris" trying to fit the crap inside an already full unit.

Even worse in terms of invasiveness.

Full disclosure: I work on this: https://www.getboxlock.com/

I honestly don't really see this working? What incentive does the delivery driver have to spend more time scanning the box (place the label in view for the barcode scanner), unlock, open the door, place box, relock it

I can 100% imagine the driver just putting the box on top and leaving, or trying quickly to scan and have it fail then again put the box on top.

This is probably the biggest roadblock to this product's success. However BoxLock is in talks with all the major carriers to provide training. The carriers themselves are incentivized to use BoxLock because it provides a guarantee that the package was delivered successfully and securely. They don't want packages stolen either.

You can add delivery instructions to most shipments that tells the delivery driver to use BoxLock.

Neat. Does it somehow know which barcodes belong to your packages, or could a thief rip a barcode off any package and use it to unlock it?

Yes, it knows which packages belong to you. It will only unlock if the package is being delivered to that specific lock and the package is "out for delivery".

I do this with a patio box, but added a door sensor that transmits to our alarm/home automation system and triggers a recording from the camera aimed at that area and a push notification to my phone. UPS is good at putting packages in the box. On good days, FedEx might get them in the vicinity of the porch.

The Josef might be worth stealing though.

With all due respect, this sounds like the wrong solution.

(1) It's too much of a hassle. Delivery drivers probably won't bother (2) What's to stop a thief from scanning a fake barcode?

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