A Crime of Passion

How a timely security upgrade foiled a languishing thief

Love often drives people to do some crazy things. One man, Larry J. Hopkins, tried to steal his way into a woman’s heart. On March 14, he entered Carroll’s Jewelers in Doylestown, Penn. After more than two hours of looking at various engagement rings (i.e., waiting for the right moment), he palmed a $47,000 three-carat diamond solitaire ring in a platinum setting, one of the most expensive rings in the store, when the salesperson’s back was turned. Within two minutes, he was gone—and the salesperson didn’t realize the theft until a few minutes later.

Joel Robinson, the store’s owner, told a local newspaper, “Nothing this valuable has ever been stolen from the store in its nearly 50 years of operation. The last theft from the store occurred more than 15 years ago.”

Good Timing
Unbeknownst to Hopkins, there was a reliable eyewitness capturing his every move. In a lucky twist of fate, a few months prior to the incident, Access Security Corp. of Warminster, Penn., a provider of integrated security systems, had upgraded the jewelry store’s legacy CCTV system, which consisted of a 10-year-old time-lapse VCR system linked to four analog cameras. The system had been replaced with an Exacq Technologies hybrid NVR and two megapixel cameras from IQinVision.

With the old system, the cameras would not have provided sufficient resolution to allow law enforcement officials to positively identify suspects, even at only 50 feet away.

“The store’s surveillance system clearly needed to be replaced,” said Roger Shuman, marketing manager of Exacq Technologies. “Access Security has a history with the jewelry store, as they installed the existing system. When they were ready to replace the old technology, they were urged by Dan Cogan, president of Access Security, to use megapixel cameras.”

“Using existing infrastructure was important to the client,” Cogan said. “The exacqVision hybrid NVR system was chosen because it allowed us to integrate the existing analog cameras with the new high-resolution megapixel cameras from IQinVision.”

A Solid Match-Up
With the exacqVision NVR, a true hybrid digital video surveillance system, up to 32 analog cameras can be used and 64 IP cameras can be connected per exacqVision server, at all resolution modes and compression formats. The system supports the leading IP camera manufacturers and remote viewing, an important feature for a jewelry store.

A powerful feature of exacqVision is exacqReplay, which provides instant playback of video from any camera simply by right-clicking in that camera’s window panel and selecting the desired time segment, up to the last 15 minutes. This is a useful tool to assess alarms, as well as to quickly review something that just happened. The video or individual images can be easily exported for e-mailing, printing or burning to a CD or DVD.

“IQinVision’s IQeye megapixel cameras were selected for their high-quality images and because they complemented the existing analog cameras best,” Cogan said. “After surveying all the cameras at the ISC West show in Las Vegas, IQinVision products stood out the most. The company also has a longstanding history. We’ve been in business for 37 years—we know we’re going to be around so we want to make sure the companies we do business with will be around as well.”

An IQeye 753, a high-resolution, color, day/night, 3.1 megapixel network camera, was aimed at the highest dollar merchandise—the engagement rings and diamonds, while the other IQeye camera, the IQeye 511, a megapixel camera that delivers high-speed IP video and enhanced low-light performance, provided a wide-angle view of the store.

It was the IQeye 753 that provided the critical surveillance video that led to Hopkins’ arrest. The video clearly shows a white man in his 50s with salt-and-pepper hair, wearing a navy baseball cap with a tan trim, a black leather jacket, blue jeans, a polo shirt and wireless glasses, holding the ring and quickly covering it with his fingers. Access Security exported approximately 10 minutes of video and still images to a CD for the police and media.

“Our system uses a proprietary and standard AVI format,” Shuman said. “The nice thing about our format is that it creates a self-executable file that will run on any computer without the need for a special type of media player, an important time-saving feature for law enforcement.”

Two days later, Hopkins was apprehended.

“With our old CCTV system we would not have been able to catch this guy and our ring would be gone,” Robinson said in a press release.

The Fallout
With such solid evidence, the Exacq Technology NVR and the IQinVision cameras did more than help return an expensive ring to a store and hold a thief accountable for his crime—an unsuspecting woman would’ve most likely been engaged to a man with a criminal history, and her finger would’ve been adorned with a ring that’s not a symbol of love and commitment but of thievery and deceit. Instead, the object of Hopkins’ affections—who was not named—returned the ring and dumped him.

Hopkins pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 111/2 to 23 months in the county prison. In addition, he was ordered to complete two years of probation and undergo a mental health evaluation.

According to a local newspaper, when the prosecutor asked Hopkins why he did it, Hopkins answered, “For love. I loved her so much that I went out of my mind.”

This article originally appeared in the November 2008 issue of Security Today.

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