Sometimes the Bad Guys Win

Just the other day a colleague of mine had two of his stores burglarized in the same night.  The thieves hit the first store at 2:00am, cutting a steal guard gate and then driving a stolen truck through the steel warehouse door.  Once inside the store the thieves headed directly to the brand new 75 inch Samsung 4K TVs and loaded two of them in the truck and took off.

About an hour after the first crime was committed the thieves hit another store.  The MO was the same, cut the steal guard gate, smash the warehouse door with a stolen truck and then steal two more Samsung 75 inch 4K TVs. 

In all the burglar’s got away with four (4) Samsung 4K TVs worth $25,000 and incurred thousands of dollars in property damage to both the store buildings as well as the two stolen trucks. 

Both crimes were caught on tape however the video footage was worthless since the thieves were wearing hoodies and balaclavas and the vehicles they were using during the break ins were both stolen.  The alarm system and central monitoring station did it’s job and notified the authorities as soon as the warehouse door was breached.  The local sirens inside the store wailed until the police showed up but during the wee hours of the morning there was nobody around the industrial district to hear the blaring siren. 

The video surveillance system recorded both break ins as they were happening and allowed the store owner and manager to remotely view the break in as it was occurring and verify with the monitoring station that the alarm was real and a break in was occurring.  While the security cameras did record the crime on tape, the video footage turned out to be useless since the trucks used in the crimes were both stolen and the burglars were both wearing hoodies and balaclavas covering there faces.

As an security consultant, I look at burglaries to determine what more could be done to prevent such break ins from occurring.  The store owner did all the right things.  Doors and windows were fortified with security screens and barriers.  The alarm system was working properly and the security cameras did capture footage of the crime … what more could a store owner do?  Unfortunately not much, says Doyle Serink, “sometimes even with a good alarm system and all the best preventative measures break and enters will still occur, especially with high valued targets.  There’s not much someone can do to prevent a guy from driving a truck through your front door  and doing a smash and grab”.

While you can’t prevent a motivated thief from stealing high valued electronics you might be able to discourage them from targeting the items in the first place … How?   Remote location and identification technologies already exist and are being used with our cell phones and computers.  Services and apps like “Find My iPhone”  help owners locate their lost, stolen or missing devices by using a simple app or web site.  This same technology could be used to locate and track Smart TVs and electronics.  How you ask?  Simple … 

In order to set up all the features on a Smart TV you need to connect it to the internet to download firmware upgrades and connect to streaming services and app stores.  When the TV connects to the internet it broadcasts it’s unique MAC Address and the IP Address from the network were it is connecting.  Like “Find My iPhone”  this digital serial number and IP address could be used to LOCATE the stolen or missing TV. but it doesn’t stop there.  SMART TVs like computers gather and store information, like your NETFLIX Password and Email Address.  Further once connected to the internet Smart TVs send and receive information between the TV and the Manufacturer’s server.  If the manufacturer were to implement a “Find My iPhone” type of service feature it would allow the server to send a firmware update to the Stolen or Missing TV which could “BRICK” the SMART TV leaving a message on the screen similar to what you can display on your iPhone or Smart Phone.  The message could say this TV has been reported as stolen and has been locked … to unlock the TV please call ……  Another method to track and trace a stolen TV would be for the server to report the Netflix or Email account information to the authorities or if equipped with a webcam the camera on the device could be remotely activated to provide a Photograph of the person or persons using it.

It’s hard to say if or when TV manufacturers may incorporate lost, stolen or location  identification services into televisions.  Thousands of phones get lost or misplaced everyday which makes “Find My iPhone” and other services like it so valuable. 

Televisions unlike phones don’t get stolen or go missing that often so while the service is possible the likelihood of a TV manufacturer incorporating it into products is highly unlikely.   Sometimes the bad guys win … at least for now.

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