The Night They Burgled the Spy Store

Screenshot from Spymicro's website.

Personally, I consider it in mildly bad taste to laugh at “stupid criminals,” unless they’re Woody Allen in Take the Money and Run.

So I’ll tell you from the outset that in this case I’m not laughing. I feel this incident reflects an important shift in the history of surveillance.

Remember when Google CEO Eric Schmidt told us if we didn’t want someone to know we were doing something, maybe we shouldn’t be doing it in the first place? Well, in much the same way that the Bush Administration’s post-9/11 warrantless wiretap program was clearly illegal, widely covered in the press AND failed to produce a single actionable piece of intelligence, this incident shows that all the cameras and/or news coverage in the world can’t necessarily stop someone from getting away with it.

In short, if it’s not on YouTube, it didn’t happen, but even if it is, it may not matter. Crimes committed in public can go unpunished.

Well, the two burglars in the footage via the San Gabriel Valley Tribune are on YouTube, or at least its mainstream-news-media Southern California equivalent. Their careers in burglary took them to Spymicro on Ramona Blvd in Irwindale — a store that sells surveillance equipment. The proprietor apparently leaves the cameras on overnight.

A total of four cameras captured the late-night action as the burglars, who were not wearing masks, stole a total of eight video cameras and two DVRs, for a total take of no more than $2,600 (plus about a thousand dollars to the front door, according to the owner). Sounds like it was probably a couple of their value-priced four-camera packages, eh?

The whole thing lasted for two minutes, and even so, store owner Jerry Chen feels he didn’t get either burglar’s good side:

Chen said he plans to place additional cameras outside his store, and install a sturdier door leading into his showroom.

…which just goes to prove my point that crimes committed in public may go unpublished, ’cause, y’see:

…Though the video feeds have clear shots of the suspects’ faces, police have not been able to identify them and are hoping a member of the public will recognize them.

…Which seems like a pretty weak endorsement of the whole concept of video surveillance as law enforcement — but hey, it’s not like we’re British, right?

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