Caught a mail thief with LPR camera

Discussion in 'LPR' started by rgo_128, Dec 29, 2018.

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  1. rgo_128

    rgo_128 Getting the hang of it

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    I've been lurking on this site for a couple years after I saw a thief stealing packages from mailboxes in our neighborhood but my security footage was to grainy to provide actionable information to the police. Seems like a common problem in our neighborhood that some petty crime happens and there is video footage of the vehicle/perp but not clear enough to be actionable, and the police can't do anything.

    Frustrated by that experience, I decided to install a better setup with LPR capability, and I read the threads on this board to figure out how. I ended up installing 2 SD49225T-HN cameras, one fixed on a group of mailboxes and the other one configured as LPR. I used the trick of placing reflective tape in the field of view of the LPR so that focus is maintained day and night which worked really well (that was mentioned on a thread in this forum). I put a spare license plate placed in the field of view to optimize exposure settings to work day/night without glare/washout. I used the PTZ cameras for LPR instead of the turret/bullet style simply because they are mounted very high up and I wanted the ability to adjust aim without having to climb a tall later while I optimized the setup since I didn't know beforehand what angle/field of view was going to be optimum for my LPR setup. I know the PTZ is not considered optimum for LPR, but it is working fine.

    I also installed 6 IPC-HDW5231R-Z cameras covering the perimeter of my house/front door, etc, and hooked it up to a Dahua NVR NVR5216-4KS2.

    This week a truck came by in the middle of the night and stole mail from the group of mailboxes. The cameras did their job and I got clear video of the crime and the license plate, so the police say they will be able to act on this information!

    Just wanted to say thanks for all the advice posted on this board!
     
  2. tech101

    tech101 Getting the hang of it

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    Awesome! That is great to know you were able to get a good video. Hopefully they serve a very long time in Jail also report this to Postal inspector if you are in united states. Thank You!!!
     
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  3. mat200

    mat200 IPCT Contributor

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    Thanks @rgo_128 ! Great to read this news!

    Do feel free to share the video here so others can learn from your experiences.
     
  4. rgo_128

    rgo_128 Getting the hang of it

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    @mat200, I can share some still photos right now, but I am having trouble converting the saved .DAV format video from the NPR to any common AVI/MPEG format that I could post here... if you have advice for how to do that I can share the video too. It is a dahua NVR.

    Here is the guy in the act of pulling packages out of a mailbox.
    PackageThief.png

    Here is the license plate capture. I blocked over some of the digits since this guy hasn't been convicted yet so I thought I should not show the whole plate. (Not sure the etiquette here.) Note the reflective tape in the upper left corner of the image, that is why the focus works in daytime and nighttime. Without it I had to optimize for one lighting condition and it was not well focused in other lighting conditions.
    PackageThief_LicensePlate_NumberBlocked.png

    @tech101, I am in the US (California) and I did report it to the postal inspector. (they have not followed up with me since the report though).

    Overall I have been happy with this setup, but I have experienced a lot of camera dropouts that require rebooting the system to recover. I have the NPR set to reboot daily to clear these types of dropouts. On the day the thief came, the camera that views the mailboxes dropped out just an hour later... so got lucky there. Also it would be better if I zoomed in more so the guys face were resolved. Oh well, hopefully the license plate will be enough to convict the guy.
     
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  5. fenderman

    fenderman Staff Member

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    Dropouts and often related to poor cables or crimps.
     
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  6. rgo_128

    rgo_128 Getting the hang of it

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    Thanks Fenderman, there are quite a few custom cables with crimps in this setup (I hired a networking guy to run the cables and mount the cameras, but looks like maybe we need to redo some of them)

    BTW I thought I would share some more details of the LPR camera settings that have been successful for me, after quite a bit of futzing to get good exposure. Not sure this is completely optimized, but it has been working OK with pretty good hit rate of LPR capture in almost all lighting conditions.. There are still some situations with extreme sunlight backlighting at sunset, and worn out license plates that have poor reflective surface where the image is not clear enough, but most of the time it works fine.

    This is a Dahua PTZ 25x zoom camera SD49225T-HM.

    The camera is mounted on my house is about 40' back from the road, and the imaging location is about 100' feet up the road from my driveway. The camera is mounted about 25' up from the ground, but this is about 30' up from the imaging location because I am on a hill. I was worried this angle would be too oblique to get good capture, but actually it works well and avoids headlight glare. As I mentioned, there is reflective tape placed on a log beside the road to maintain focus day/night. I have the zoom at approximately 12x, not the full zoom, and this makes the license plate occupy about 10% of the width of the view, while still capturing the whole street.

    Here are the settings I use for LPR:
    Profile -- Night time always
    Settings screens are shown below.
    Picture
    Settings_Picture.png

    Exposure
    Settings_Exposure.png

    Backlight
    Settings_Backlight.png

    DayNight
    Settings_DayNight.png

    IR light
    Settings_IRLight.png

    WB
    Settings_WB.png

    ZoomFocus
    Settings_ZoomFocus.png
     

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  7. fenderman

    fenderman Staff Member

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    confirm that solid copper cable was used not CCA/copper clad aluminium.
     
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  8. rgo_128

    rgo_128 Getting the hang of it

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    Thanks, will do
     
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  9. rgo_128

    rgo_128 Getting the hang of it

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    Can anyone recommend an app for converting .DAV files to .mp4?
     
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  10. rgo_128

    rgo_128 Getting the hang of it

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    Finally figured out how to convert .DAV to MP4 using Dahua SmartPSS. Cant say I love the interface, but it works in the end.

    Here is the video of the theft from the mailboxes and the licence plate capture.
     

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  11. bigredfish

    bigredfish Known around here

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  12. mat200

    mat200 IPCT Contributor

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    @rgo_128 wow, nice clear license plate capture. well done.
     
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  13. rgo_128

    rgo_128 Getting the hang of it

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    Thanks bigredfish, I will try avdshare next time I need to export a DAV. I finally got SmartPSS to work well enough though I thought the interface was clunky and made it harder than it needed to be.

    Thanks mat200, I had to play around a lot with exposure settings before getting the capture to be reliably clear, but in the end it works pretty well. Hopefully the police/judge will agree it is clear enough! I'll update once the police have taken some action, and if there is a court result.
     
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  14. catcamstar

    catcamstar Getting comfortable

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    Not to hijack your great post: you might look for the latest firmware for your NVR, my 5216-16P-4KS2 wasn't able to "export" into MP4 until the lastest update mid March 2018. Since then no hassle anymore.

    Great footage btw!
    CC
     
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  15. EMPIRETECANDY

    EMPIRETECANDY IPCT Vendor

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    DAHUA NVR5XXX-4KS2_MultiLang_V3.216.0000002.0.R.20181106
    Can use this link to download the firmware, after update make a default.
     
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  16. EMPIRETECANDY

    EMPIRETECANDY IPCT Vendor

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    You are the 1st guy use this ptz to work as LPR, thanks for your sharing.
     
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  17. wtimothyholman

    wtimothyholman Pulling my weight

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    I would bet that the thief already has an arrest record. Once the authorities check the license plate, they'll probably know exactly who to pick up and question. The camera captures several good views of his head and face from different directions as he empties the mailbox. If you crop and zoom to provide the cops with multiple still images of the perp, along with the videos of the license plate and the theft, you'll give them the tools they'll need to confront him and force a confession (which happens more often than people realize).

    If he is arrested, please be sure to attend his court date. One of the common reasons why charges are dismissed by a judge is because witnesses don't show up to testify. If you do show up, and his attorney knows you are ready to testify, in all likelihood he'll take a plea bargain.

    And in any case, I would post these images, and the license plate, to NextDoor (assuming it is available in your area). Let your neighbors know about this guy. You can be certain that this isn't the first time he's done this. The cops may drag their feet with one complaint, but if they start hearing from multiple residents they'll be much more likely to do something.
     
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  18. rgo_128

    rgo_128 Getting the hang of it

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    Thanks wtimothyholman, I posted it to my nextdoor community, and I will do some cropping on the images to get better views of his face. Right now, I am trying to get one of my neighbors to submit a police report... it is funny because while the police said the information is actionable, it turns out they wont accept my report because nothing was stolen from me. (my mailbox was empty, and he stole from the other three)... so since I am not a victim, they wont act until one of the 'victims' submits the report... so at the moment I am actually a bit frustrated because each of my neighbors are out of town or unable/unwilling to submit the report.... so even clear actionable footage of a federal crime in progress with licence plate captured on video is apparently not enough to interest my local police to act... Maybe I should move??
     
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  19. wtimothyholman

    wtimothyholman Pulling my weight

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    Maybe you should move. :) Thankfully I live in a neighborhood where my neighbors will file police reports. It is frustrating to live near people who "can't be bothered" to call the police.

    But if nothing else, posting images with the license plate number on NextDoor may get some action. This guy is probably hitting mailboxes in your area on a regular basis. Eventually he will steal the mail of someone who will be grateful for the information you have provided.
     
  20. NoloC

    NoloC Getting comfortable

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    Wonder if reporting to the USPS would help? It is probably a Federal crime and they have Postal Inspectors still, I think.
     
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