How to put together a security system for a mobile equipment trailer.
June 17, 2015 10:12 AM   Subscribe

For a friend: I have a large covered trailer I use to haul around thousands of dollars worth of lawn care equipment for my landscaping business. I (and other locals in my line of work) have had equipment stolen from me, sometimes right in the middle of the day while working on a job. Recently, some expensive equipment has been stolen out of my equipment trailer. I work alone, and so I can't just have someone hang around the truck to guard it. And so now I turn to technology.

I have two solutions I would like to look into:

1) Install a camera in the back of the trailer that records video directly to a HDD that the camera is wired to. If you can think of a more dependable and cheap option than this for recording video, please suggest it. Assume that I will be able to secure and hide the camera and storage device so that it is not taken by would-be thieves, and please also assume that I will be able to provide appropriate electricity to both of these pieces throughout the day. I am interested in a motion-sensitive camera, but not exclusively so. I am potentially interested in a system which, in addition to the above, alerts me in real time if someone comes within the camera's field of vision.

2) Install a chip, similar to the Tile. But, probably not actually Tile, because Tile doesn't use GPS. Is there a small rechargeable item that can be tracked via GPS that I can buy? I mean, clearly the government has them. Have we reached the point that normal people can pick them up?

Cliff's Notes: I have a portable equipment trailer that I am in danger of having things stolen from while I am not physically near it. I am looking for a way to record events inside the trailer for later review, and/or a way of electronically tracking equipment that has been taken from me.
posted by Poppa Bear to Technology (9 answers total)
How about a second hand Iphone, motion activated camera app and find my Iphone turned on?
posted by KateViolet at 10:26 AM on June 17, 2015

Tracker Possibility?

Also you might try looking into trail cameras for deer they are motion activated and made for hunters to check if deer are running past a blind. Not sure how well it would work with humans but motion activation is built in.
posted by edbles at 10:30 AM on June 17, 2015

Dashcams are pretty cheap these days, are small enough that it should be easy to do a concealed mount for one, run on very little power and record 1080p video to flash memory cards in a wide range of lighting conditions.
posted by flabdablet at 10:32 AM on June 17, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions so far!

To clarify the item-tracking option (because I did a poor job of that), what I'm looking for is an item I could attach to each piece of equipment in case it was stolen, not to the truck or trailer itself. While Sanoxy tracker that edbles linked looks pretty cool, it appears that it would be too expensive to be practical.
posted by Poppa Bear at 11:07 AM on June 17, 2015

How about securing gear with trip wire alarms. This will shock the thief and gets your immediate attention when you are within hearing distance. Camera's are nice of after the fact hoping to get a picture of the person. Still useless since its unlikely you will see the thieve again.
Plenty of GPS tracking devices on the market, problem are the cost for the monthly charges.
posted by Mac-Expert at 11:33 AM on June 17, 2015

Is this a type of trailer that cannot easily be locked with a high security lock?

This seems like a similar problem to locking one's bike in public: is it necessary to have your equipment be the most secure, or is it simply necessary to give the appearance that stealing your gear is going to be substantially harder than stealing someone else's gear?

I like big, high security locks because they a) secure your stuff, so you don't have to worry about tracking down the thief later and b) provide a nice visible deterrent. Lots of camera approaches are built on the assumption that you want to and can track down the thief, but I imagine you are in the type of business wherein if you don't do the work, you don't get paid, making theft prevention, rather than thief identification, the best course of action to pursue.
posted by rachelpapers at 12:06 PM on June 17, 2015

I personally think you need a multiprong approach. You need both trailer DOOR security (people stealing stuff out of it) and trailer security (people stealing the whole trailer).

1) A GPS tracker for the entire trailer, hidden. You can afford the monthly charges if it's worth that much, and may even help your insurance... if you insure the stuff. This is like $100+ plus monthly fees.

2) A motion alarm (like a car alarm) with remote control that you can arm/disarm, powered by a battery. I'd imagine you need to supply a power cable back toward the trailer to charge it and some relays. here's an idea that costs about $100 or so, includes battery for power and stuff:

3) A DOOR alarm/camera/flash that takes picture of anyone who opens the trailer door. Door switch is simple. Camera will trigger upon trailer open and operate UNTIL it closes. Probably hooked into the panic mode of the motion alarm.

I imagine you need an arduino or such to trigger the camera and such for this one. Cameras are cheap. Arduino somewhat less so. Add $100-150 here, maybe?
posted by kschang at 12:23 PM on June 17, 2015

There are a number of small GPS trackers made for bicycles and motorcycles. Maybe something like that would work for you. Here is one...
posted by Broken Ankle at 1:19 PM on June 17, 2015

The stuff was stolen out of your trailer.. Was it unlocked? Did they break the lock or break the door? You might consider getting a better lock or a better door. I mean, the kind that's really resistant to bolt cutters and dremels. Also an extremely loud alarm.

Are you more interested in catching the thief or securing your equipment? Because a camera will catch some images, but.. They might not be super-useful to you unless you recognize the thief.

Can you engrave your business name in a hidden location on the equipment? That might help identify if you comb the pawn shops and craigslist. Pawn owners tend to keep pretty good records and if someone is selling stolen machinery, they'll cooperate with you and the police to mete out justice to the thief.
posted by ostranenie at 5:09 PM on June 17, 2015

« Older In Austen's Mansfield Park, what is a transparency...   |   Illustrated map of "Swiss Family Robinson"... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.