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Investigative help needed!
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Snow-i
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Feb 19, 2016, 04:45 PM
 
Hey guys,

I'm in a bit of a quandry, so I would like to solicit your advice on a situation I am currently dealing with

Background:

Wednesday morning, I went out to my car parked on the 4th floor of my garage, and noticed my headlight was shattered into a million peices. The garage I park in is covered with cameras, and allows for monthly parking & daily (meaning you get a ticket, and pay at a pay machine - more on this later). I called the parking company, who directed me to the security company, who told me that indeed the entire garage is on camera but that they would only review the footage with the police present. I called the non-emergency line and two officers met me at the security office, where we reviewed the footage. At approx 11:15 the night before, some asshole walking back to his car just decided to kick in my headlight before getting into his car and driving out. I don't know the guy, and we can't figure out a motive.... my car was just in the wrong spot at the wrong time I guess. I've been asked so many times by the police whether I know this guy that it seems like they suspect I do but they haven't said that outright.

Anyways, two officers were extremely helpful and spent about two hours with me looking at the footage. The lighting of the garage and the quality of the cameras was such that we were unable to make out the license plate on the car, despite being caught on 15+ cameras. We can track the guy going into the garage, paying at the machine (and though blurry, it definitely looks like he used a credit card) then going up to the 4th floor, kicking in my headlight, gettting into his car and driving away. The officers left, and my case was given to a detective. The detective has been "ok" but I really get the feeling like he's got bigger fish to fry. The estimate from the dealership was over 1500, and doing a google search on vandalism laws anything over 1000 is a class 4 felony.


Needless to say, I really really want to find this asshole. I feel like with getting him on camera and him using a credit card, it should be a no-brainer for the police....however, the detective has cautioned me that it's a "long shot" since their cursory review of the footage did not yield a plate number. The parking company has been really supportive, but they informed me that the machine immediately encrypts a transaction and that the ONLY information they can get is the last 4, meaning we don't know the card issuer or name, etc. The detective doesn't seem to want to pursue that avenue, and I have a hard time believing it wouldn't be trivial to figure that stuff out. So NN'ers, my solicitation is two-fold: Can anyone here offer me any experience or advice that may help me prod the police into the correct action? i.e. having the state's attorney subpoena the records from that machine and/or having the police review the camera with someone halfway competent with a computer. I have not been demanding with the police, but I feel like I need to find a way to make this easier on them. The garage security company said it would be "too much work" to track the guy originally coming into the garage where it's possible, if it were before dusk, the daylight hours could provide a better view of the plate. The detective hasn't told me what he plans to do with the footage, but I feel like this would be relatively trivial.

So to recap:
-Asshole is on camera the entire time he's in the garage.
-The lighting of the garage is poor at night, and coupled with the camera's resolution a plate number is extremely difficult to make out (but IMO would be better than possible if the right person were to review it). I have no access to the videos, and was only able to view it on their computers with the officers looking at it at the same time. The police however can get copies of that footage.
-Dude most likely used a credit card upon exiting, but the garage company says those records are "encrypted immediately" and their legal department will not let them investigate further and is unsure what would happen if the police directly pursued that route (though he did say that he would do whatever the police asked of him after consulting his legal department, he's in CYA mode and I don't blame him - he's been extremely nice about it). I feel like the police should be able to get around this extremely easily, but the detective thinks "it's a long shot".

I know exactly what this dude and his car looks like, but he's definitely not a regular parker at that garage (else he'd had a monthly pass) and I haven't seen the car in the garage since. The garage is downtown in my city so it's impossible to know whether or not this guy will be back (or even if he lives in the state). If I did see the car again, I would call the police (my real intent here is to recoup my loss).


In the meantime, I'm out a bundle of money that I really don't have right now to fix my car.

Can you guys offer me any wisdom that might help in me dealing with the police, garage, card, & security companies? Everyone so far has been supportive, but I feel like they could be more so if I push them in the correct direction. I have another resource in one of my really good friends' siblings being a former prosecutor in my city, but I have yet to make contact with that person and I am unsure of how willing they'd be to help.

Best Regards,
Your resident (and extremely pissed off) snowball.
     
reader50
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Feb 19, 2016, 05:20 PM
 
Did you note down the exact timestamp when he pulled out of the building? A neighbor or building across the street might have a camera pointed in the right direction. Especially if he drove through a streetlight cone, they might have a cleaner pic of the plate.

Could you offer to pay a few hours labor for a garage employee to sift back through the files, in order to find the arrival pics? If it's a low-margin business, their concern might just be labor costs.
     
Snow-i  (op)
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Feb 19, 2016, 05:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Did you note down the exact timestamp when he pulled out of the building? A neighbor or building across the street might have a camera pointed in the right direction. Especially if he drove through a streetlight cone, they might have a cleaner pic of the plate.
Yes, approximately 11:18 pm. I hadn't thought of that, and infact there are several businesses right there that may have caught the offending car.

Could you offer to pay a few hours labor for a garage employee to sift back through the files, in order to find the arrival pics? If it's a low-margin business, their concern might just be labor costs.
Definitely not a costs problem - the security company who does the garage also does high-rise apartments wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy (did i mention way?) out of my price range. I live in a condo across the street . I will circle back around with them - I have a good relationship with them and I might be able to coax them into reviewing the footage myself. I want to act quick as I am not sure what their video retention policy is, and I was hoping the police would request that they hold onto the relevant periods. To my knowledge this has not happened, but I will check with them tonight.
     
iMOTOR
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Feb 19, 2016, 06:52 PM
 
Were you or the police able to get a copy of the footage?
     
P
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Feb 19, 2016, 07:17 PM
 
Don't think it helps, but generally, everything but the last few digits of a credit card number is defined by whatever bank issued the card, so even a glance at the card to determine the appearance might give you a hint of the other numbers. It is then easy enough to verify if a number is valid - many validators exist online.

Other than that, post a notice of the "have you seen this man?" type at pedestrian entrances?
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
mindwaves
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Feb 19, 2016, 09:33 PM
 
Nothing to add, but that is crazy.
{{{ mindwaves }}}
     
Waragainstsleep
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Feb 19, 2016, 09:51 PM
 
The 'police present' rule is probably some insurance liability thing. If you can find the employee who reviewed it with the police, so he knows the case is legit, sling him a case of beer and maybe he'll help you out with a plate number. He doesn't have to let you watch after all. And don't forget the entry timestamp as the neighbours cameras as mentioned above might also do better in daylight.


I assume make, model and colour of car are not very distinctive? Don't some states let you get lists from the DMV or was Gone in 60 Seconds lying to me? Otherwise cross referencing with age and gender might narrow it down.

If the car was recent could you show his photo to nearby showrooms that sell that make?

Did he seem drunk or angry before he smashed the light? If not maybe he's a local mechanic who thought you might go to him for a new one.

If you find any footage from nearby cameras, don't forget to look for him on foot as well as in the car. You might learn where he was. 11:18 seems like a good time to finish drinking or maybe seeing a movie. Nearby bars or cinema? Was there a sports game on that finished at 11? Once you run out of useful hard data you are left playing the percentages I'm afraid.

Chances are the credit card payments are outsourced somewhere and you'd need to get through a bunch of bureaucrats with a court order to get that data. I can see it might be a PITA for a cop, but surely that is his job? It seems like an instant easy conviction if someone bothers to fill out the forms.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Waragainstsleep
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Feb 19, 2016, 09:53 PM
 
Maybe his date didn't want to go home with him? Try restaurants too.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Cap'n Tightpants
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Feb 20, 2016, 12:42 AM
 
Someone keyed one of my cars and then was dumb enough to brag about it online. Maybe your guy is as stupid as that one? Put the footage on Youtube, maybe someone will come forward with info. You could also hire a PI, but that gets expensive very quickly. I would, and have, but I'm rather vindictive about that sort of thing.
"I have a dream, that my four little children will one day live in a
nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin,
but by the content of their character." - M.L.King Jr
     
el chupacabra
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Feb 20, 2016, 09:24 AM
 
Someone at the apartment knows the guy. You could talk to the neighbors with pics in hand. Maybe post pics of the car and the guy in the mail room & a few other places with your phone number. Out of curiosity of seeing multiple fliers of him I'd think someone would call. Also aren't there cameras on every streetlight?
     
besson3c
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Feb 21, 2016, 07:54 PM
 
You might have luck with digging deeper on the credit card thing by contacting the right source.

The payment gateways decrypt card info before sending to whatever EMV card type is relevant.

If you could get a search warrant you could press to figure out the gateway and work with them, but your main problem here sounds like the police are unwilling to provide the warrant. I imagine warrants are usually for more severe kinds of crime, although that is just speculation.
     
Laminar
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Feb 22, 2016, 09:20 AM
 
What kind of shitting parking garage cameras can't read a license plate? Isn't that...like...the one thing that a camera looking at cars needs to be able to see?

If you know when he swiped his card to pay for parking, they should be able to look through the logs and find the transaction at that machine on that timestamp. Easy.
     
   
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