16Nov

Eugene Police Investigating Food Cart/Stand Burglaries

Police Seek Public’s Help – Coffee Stand and Food Cart Burglaries

Eugene Police are investigating a series of food cart/coffee stand burglaries that have occurred over the past month. A suspect or suspects have been breaking into the businesses and primarily stealing the cash registers.

The Eugene Police Community Engagement Team has been getting the word out to food cart owners over the past few weeks, keeping them informed and providing security tips. However, the suspect(s) continuing to victimize these businesses and detectives are now asking for the public’s help. If anyone sees suspicious conditions around a coffee cart or food trailer that could indicate a similar crime occurring or about to occur, they are asked to call 911

Additionally, detectives are asking business owners to report break-ins right away. Detectives have heard there may be additional burglaries that have not been reported to the police.

27Dec

Product Review – Arlo Pro 2 Three (3) Camera System

It’s the time of year when good deals are out there for savvy shoppers  looking to get into home security. Such was the case on the on the Cyber Monday this year when Costco had their 3 pack Arlo cameras on special. Here is our experience as we delved into our own home-based cyber-security.

Cyber Monday is the first Monday after Thanksgiving (a now timeless tradition in the Internet universe for smart shoppers looking to avoid the pains of traditional in-person Black Friday Christmas shopping.) Why deal with the crowds when you can point your trusty browser to the deals at hand on the Monday that follows the turkey and stuffing extravaganza. Personally, I like the idea because Thanksgiving has traditionally been a day meant for enjoying family – not the commercialized holiday that it’s become. Wait a few days and then go online.. you shant be disappointed!

One of the first deals to cross my desk was a three camera security camera system from Arlo as offered by Costco. Normally $439 on the store shelves, this super deal was $150.00 off the normal in-store price – $289.00 was simply too good a price to pass up. Free shipping sealed the deal.  It didn’t take much convincing for my lovely wife to be on board

We ordered on Monday and it was on our door-step within two days. I was stoked when the delivery guy dropped it off. But.. what was the “out-of-box” experience? Read on…

I broke open the box to see a tightly packed array of cool-looking devices, the first and most obvious of which was the “hub” for the camera operations. Without reading the instructions, it was clear that this device was meant to connect with the home network (aka, the router.) Most home network routers have available “hard-wired” ports for connecting such devices. We had open ports available so it wasn’t difficult at all to wire up the Arlo hub.  This means that you’ll see the Arlo hub show up on your list of available wireless networks.  Something your neighbors (and perhaps other unintended visitors) might discover.  Don’t worry, it’s a secure network that the hub has created.

Next, I went on to install the Arlo mobile app. This is available for Android and iOS and the app quickly downloads from the app store for your device. Once installed you simply point it to the hub that you’ve established at the beginning of the process and… viola.. you’re in business!

Each Arlo camera is then added to the wireless hub which is really quite simple to accomplish. All told, the 3 camera wireless system installed in about an hour.

Pros: This system (as reviewed) is wireless. The batteries are charged and the mounting brackets are very easy to install. Most folks won’t even need to bother with the instructions. The mobile app and everything that you need to get going are right there in the packaging. The basic install includes a free “in the cloud” user account which includes live notifications and basic digital storage of the motion-activated video captured by the cameras. The Arlo app is awesome. You can view live footage or view the captured video that is activated by the motion. Day time video looks fabulous. Night-time video is infrared enhanced black and white footage which is very clear for being what it is.

Cons: Basic services get you going but some users will opt for the monthly (at a cost) service that gives you the expanded features of the camera system. In addition, even though the camera is considered wireless, the expanded features are best served when wiring the cameras to a continual power source. Some users report that they only need to charge their cameras every couple of months. We’ve only had ours for a month and yet we are already receiving app notifications that the cameras need to be charged. From what I can discern, the longevity of the battery depends largely on the amount of motion-activated video that is occurring. Also noteworthy is that on Christmas Day, a neighbor’s young boy dropped off some holiday chocolate that mysteriously went undetected by the system (really, it did!)

When motion is detected, the camera starts recording. However, the video footage does not contain the initial motion that activated the video in the first place. I’ve noticed about a 5 to 10 second delay between the motion that activated the camera versus the overall footage. In other words, you’ll miss the footage that caused the motion activation. Despite all of this, the app notifications are extremely timely. I know instantly when motion has been detected by any of the three cameras that come with the system. This is both a blessing and a curse depending on the type of activity happening within your camera’s range.

For us, I was able to establish a camera location for our front porch that also includes the walk path up to the porch. More often than not, this is sufficient for our needs. However, the cat has been our biggest perpetrator to date. Be prepared for more of that type of information than real criminal activity. The cat, however, is super glad that we know when he wants in now. There are settings to help filter out these types of false alarms.  I haven’t tried playing with those yet. The Arlo app does allow you to define “zones” so that motion activation only occurs in the part of the video frame that counts. It appears though that this feature is only supported when you’ve wired your cameras to a continual power source. It’s important to know that that the advanced features of the system seem to require such a continual power stream.

The Arlo app allows you to define additional users who are able to install the app and use it as well. It’s granular enough that you can allow access to specific cameras if you need to. Another nice feature is the microphone/speaker capabilities that allow for 2-way communication with those on the other side. If there’s a bad guy on the porch, you can let them know you’re watching. I like that.

This Arlo system comes with three cameras and is expandable up to 5. That means that if we intend to go beyond that, some sort of expansion will be required. Perhaps that requires a second hub (but I’m not quite sure yet.)

Overall, I’m giving the Arlo system (as reviewed) a solid 3.5 our of 5 stars.) 3.5 might seem a bit low, but I’m reserving room for systems that could potentially raise the bar.) What does that all mean? Well, I’d pretty much recommend this system based on my limited experience of home surveillance systems to date. Here again are the motivating factors for my score:

  • Easy to install – I was up an running in about an hour.
  • Easy to use mobile app – it really doesn’t get much simpler.
  • Easy to expand. Extra cameras and doorbell type devices are available.
  • Pretty affordable. Even without the Costco deal, the Arlo package is a great value.

Advanced users will find themselves paying for the additional storage and features that membership affords. It’s not terribly expensive, but I’m one to shy away from things that require monthly fees. When it comes to these types of camera systems, the devil is definitely in the details. Unless you pay extra for home-based DVR systems that record continuous footage, the features of your system will be somewhat limited. Still, I continue to be impressed by what Arlo offers “out of the box.” We haven’t signed up for paid service yet and still continue to enjoy most of the features Arlo has to offer.

30Nov

Product Review – Geeni Spot Glo Smart Wi-Fi Plug

By Kevin Prociw
November 30, 2019

Today we begin the first of what we believe will be a growing number of security related product reviews here on Lane County Mugshots. Our audience has been growing steadily with mugshots and other crime related news. Over the six years that we’ve been doing this, we’ve developed a strong desire to connect more with our readers and listeners to help become part of the solution to the the crime that we see plaguing our streets. While we work to solve these issues, we need to secure and protect ourselves as best as is practicable with the tools that are available to us.

For this installment, we review the “Spot Glo Smart Wi-Fi Plug” from Geeni.

The Wi-Fi Smart Plug is, in essence, one of the coolest little timers that you can buy for controlling outlet-pluggable devices in your home. The way that I first discovered this device was around the holiday season when I needed a new timer to control some light strands. The old timer was the manual type with the dial and pins that had to be pushed or pulled to set the desired on/off status. Those who keep their fingernails short like myself found those pins challenging to pull. Quality pin timers had spot on accuracy 24/7 and were pretty dependable for keeping time.  Cheaper timers didn’t keep good time but also provided an unintended “random” feature thus promoting the illusion that somebody is home. Digital timers have been on the market for awhile now.  Though expensive,  they  provided some reprieve from the old manual pin based timers.

Old style pin timer

Enter the Geeni Spot Glo Wi-Fi smart technology plug. No longer do you need to mess with the stupid pins (or the timer itself for that matter.) You can control this bad boy using an app on your phone. This technology has been around for awhile, but now it has become more viable for the average consumer as the prices have dropped to reasonable levels that most can afford.

Let’s start with the out of box experience. Unpackaging the device you’ll find short and easy-to-understand instructions. Take the Geeni device and plug it into an outlet and wait for the little button/light on the side of the device to flash. If the light doesn’t flash, press the button and it’ll start blinking indicating that the device should be discoverable by the Geeni app. Next, you install and fire up the Geeni app that you download for free from your favorite app store. With your device connected to your home Wi-Fi network, the app will scan for the new Geeni device and then pair it to your home router. I found this to be a very simple and easy experience to navigate. Lastly, I plugged in the strand of lights to the Geeni device outlet and viola!  My holiday lights are now controllable from my phone. If you elect to register your home router on the Geeni network, you’ll be able to control your Geeni even when you aren’t home on your Wi-Fi network.) I bought one just for our coffee maker because I could never remember whether I turned the coffee pot off or not. Now, I can be anywhere and can turn the outlet off if I’m not sure. Now THAT’s pretty sweet!

Geeni Smart Plug App

The Pro Glo device also comes with a separately controlled nightlight built into it. This means that I can set a program for the nightlight that’s different from the outlet itself. As a matter of fact, the app allows you to set multiple programs for the outlet and/or the nightlight.  From my observation, it appears there are no limits to the number of programs you can set. If you want different programs for different days of the week, Geeni has you covered.

You’d think that this magical form of technical sorcery would be spendy. But get ready for this: the Wi-Fi outlet only costs $7.99 at Bi-Mart (they go for $12.74 on Amazon, so yay Bi-Mart.) That’s super inexpensive considering what you get. Best part of all, this programmable outlet has now become a tool in my box for neighborhood watch related measures that I can take to help prevent crime. In my roll as a neighborhood watch coordinator in Creswell, I’m always interested in ideas for curbing crime. Lights on timers are nothing new for making the bad guys think that someone is home when they may not be. But even if I’m home, I still use a combination of several of these little Geeni outlets to turn lights off and on throughout the night. Now it looks like I’m up and down at all odd hours (which isn’t too far from the truth anyway.)

Geeni Spot Glo Outlet

Pros: Simple to use. It takes mere moments to get the Geeni plug running. For more advanced features, you can even connect Geeni to Google Assistant, Alexa, or even Cortana.

Cons? Barely any, but there is one little nuance that I discovered in earlier versions of this device. Part of the circuitry for the Geeni outlet (perhaps a capacitor) tended to emit a high pitch noise that is barely discernible unless you were right near it. This made it impossible to use on an outlet next to the bed where I sleep. Current versions of the Geeni don’t seem to exhibit this behavior, thankfully.

For the Geeni Spot Glo plugs, I give this product a solid 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend that everyone consider adding a few of these to their home. If you’re like me, you won’t stop with one or two of these. I now have seven Geeni outlets around the house, all controlled through my smartphone.

We hope you enjoyed our first installment of our Lane County Mugshots product reviews.