Man Rigs UPS Package With Car Alarm In Attempt To Catch Thief

After receiving a box full of sheets and soda cans instead of a laptop, a man in California became convinced that someone at UPS had opened and stolen his computer. So he took matters into his own hands in an attempt to catch a thief in the act.

The man rigged an empty box with a microphone and a car alarm that was set to only go off if the box was opened. He took it to his local UPS and 10 minutes after dropping it off, he says the alarm was tripped when someone opened the box. He also claims that microphone picked up the sound of the package being opened.

“Had they not opened the box I would assume it wasn’t them but they opened it and they’re not supposed to, ” the man told reporters.

The Placer County Sheriff’s Department looked into the man’s claim but say it’s possible that the alarm was somehow set off before the box was opened and that it was only opened because the package was making so much noice.

The owner of the UPS store in question says he’s willing to meet with the peeved customer: “It was strange what he did but I’d like to hear his story.”

Auburn UPS customer devises plan to catch suspicious employees []
Thanks to Camille for the tip!


Edit Your Comment

  1. outlulz says:

    He shouldn’t have included the car alarm. If he had just included a camera that filmed them opening the box he would have had conclusive proof.

    • Taed says:

      No, because the camera would be taken out of the package before it was filled with sheets and soda cans and then resealed. The package sender would not see the camera again.

      The idea of the car alarm is to get the attention of coworkers if the package was being opened at UPS or somesuch.

      Now if it was hooked to a cell phone or something like that, that could work.

    • Marlin says:

      No then he be out a camera and just another box of cans. :)

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      Maybe instead a little bug that would send an MMS message with a camera shot via cell phone every time it detects an increase in light (from opening the box)?

      • Palaba says:

        Anny android phone with the app “tasker” could pull this off. Youwould need a strong battery but you could even program it to send an email with a picture attached every so often, or just keep it running ustream brodcaster. Tasker will even send you its long and lat as much as you want, you know in case someone made off with the phone.

    • Bearzooka says:

      What’s stopping him from stealing the camera too?

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      My understanding is that he stood outside until he heard the alarm – then went in to confront them.

      I wonder if this UPS franchise can survive this employee theft allegation – or will go the way of Dominos butt snot pizza location (it closed).

      • perruptor says:

        UPS will survive this. There’s a huge UPS terminal in my town. Back when the local weekly paper used to print the police blotter, there was an item about once a month saying the cops investigated a theft at the UPS terminal. Cameras, computers, handguns – one guy stole a set of T-tops for a Camaro. (That’s a clue as to how long this has been going on.)

    • jessjj347 says:

      Agreed. His method doesn’t really prove anything.

    • Julia789 says:

      Yeah but I bet the alarm was funny as hell.

      (Assuming it was not accidentally set off.)

  2. Hoot says:

    Try shipping something to or from a less developed country. I’ve had multiple boxes stolen out of by, I believe, the customs agents in the country. They’re resealed and everything when I get them. Just nothing inside.

    • Straspey says:

      “Try shipping something to or from a less developed country…”

      You mean like, New Jersey ??

      • SuperSnackTime says:

        weird time to take a random shot at NJ…

        • Murph1908 says:

          Any place that’s proud of Snooki and The Situation deserves it.

        • Straspey says:

          Oh it’s not random by any means –

          I live just across the river in NYC – it’s kind of a knee-jerk reaction.

          However, having said that, I will also be quick to add that I admire NJ’s new governor and give him credit for telling NY that they can pay for the Tappan Zee bridge repairs by themselves. I think he’s going to do lots of good things over there.

          • imasqre says:

            ah so you’re a pretentious NYC as*? Nice.
            I grew up in NYC and moved across the river, where most of NYC workers live…. so um.. at the very least, specify SOUTH Jersey. ;-)

          • Joe User says:

            I’ll have a good laugh when NY implements a steep NY resident toll discount on the new bridge.

            Gov. Christie is very shortsighted.

          • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

            Yes, letting the state’s vital infrastructure crumble will really show people…

          • Palaba says:

            Ah New Jersey, helping New Yorkers with their superiority complex since 1787.

            I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that the only NFL team to play in New York is the Bills.

            • Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

              I’m from Western NY and we no longer consider the “Bills” to be a football team….more like a streak ender of QBs.

      • egoods says:

        I moved to Philly from Detroit, and I never realized what a punching bag Jersey is… I thought Detroit got a lot of crap, I had no idea! It’s pretty awesome! (from my perspective)

  3. Blueskylaw says:

    “It was strange what he did but I’d like to hear his story.”

    Translated: I can’t believe we got caught by someone with such a creative idea.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      “The Placer County Sheriff’s Department looked into the man’s claim but say it’s possible that the alarm was somehow set off before the box was opened and that it was only opened because the package was making so much noice.”

      They say it’s possible? It’s also possible that sharks with laser beams in their heads set it off. But what did the person who opened it say? Did they ask this person what happened or are they just speculating to protect a local business from embarrasement?

      • flip says:

        “The man rigged an empty box with a microphone and a car alarm that was set to only go off if the box was opened”

        im sure he did some QA before live implementation. Looks like some people at the UPS store will be looking for a new job come 2011.

      • RubyRedJess says:


  4. Reading_Comprehension says:

    How much does he trust his laptop salesman?

  5. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I thought that most car alarms react to the motion of a door opening. If the UPS guy jostled the box at all, that might be enough to put pressure on the tape, causing the box flaps to budge. That could’ve caused the alarm to go off, right?

    I think it’s really surreal that the topic is a guy who attempts to catch a thief and the first frame of that video shows the a litany of headlines that are far, far worse than this guy’s theft issue.

    • Reading_Comprehension says:

      He demonstrates shaking it in the video

    • Hi_Hello says:

      it depend. The cheapest alarm has nothing to do with the motion of the door being open, it uses the same circuit that the lights uses. The same way the lights turn on when the door is open, the alarm can trigger.

      Depending on what the guy used to trigger, hopefully it wasn’t motion sensor, someone might be stealing his stuff at the ups store.

  6. Corinthos says:

    October 2009 I went on vacation to stay with a friend for two weeks. I shipped my xbox 360 to myself UPS because I didn’t want to bring it through the airport. When I received it the packing tape had been opened and my games were in a different order.I put a crappy game on the top and bottom of the game pile in case something got sat on it if any damage happened to a game it would be on I didn’t care about. Nothing was missing though but it ticked me off.

    • NYGuy1976 says:

      Sometimes packages are opened because somewhere along the route a person (possibly a dea agent) can believe that there is something suspicious or illegal inside the package. Doesnt mean it was attempted theft.

      • Shaggy says:

        You need a search warrant or a subpoena to open up somebody’s mail. DEA/FBI/USPS can’t open up your mail (legally) for any reason without one. Now, they can get a warrant if they’re got probable cause; say, if a drug dog identifies your mail as suspicious, or it sets off a explosive residue detector, etc.

        Opening up a box containing an Xbox 360 and some games? Probably not legit.

        • dadelus says:

          UPS != USPS

          • RvLeshrac says:

            Legally, leaving a package with UPS, FedEx, or DHL grants you the same protections available under USPS regulations.

            • MrEvil says:

              Pretty sure you’re not. UPS/FedEx/DHL (when they still operated domestic routes) are private carriers and are permitted the right to inspect any and all items placed in their care for shipment. No Search warrant required. It’s been a while since I read the fine print on the airbills, but generally speaking they all say “we reserve the right to inspect all shipments” DHL had a list of items you couldn’t ship with them that was as long as my arm, and at the bottom of that list they said that they reserved the right to inspect the contents of any and all shipments.

              The United States Postal Service isn’t afforded such a privilege because they are an arm of the federal government. Therefore they are bound by the constitution when it comes to opening and searching parcels. A few court cases have risen over the Post Office’s carriage of pornography in particular. Those cases established that the USPS was subject to the limits of the constitution just like the rest of the federal government.

    • Wombatish says:

      Apparently you have better taste in games than UPS?

      • Wombatish says:

        Or worse I guess :c

        But yeah, USUALLY they don’t open packages unless they’re suspicious of the packaging is damaged, and I don’t see that being the case here.

  7. Pax says:

    Instead of a car alarm, he should have hooked up a camera to a phone with 3G or 4G connectivity. And enough batteries to last the whole thing a week of being turned on.

    Then, the package would give no reason for anyone to open it. And if it WAS opened, he’d have their FACE on film, unlawfully opening the package.

    Bonus points if you hide all this in what looks like a PC, and get the Lo-Jack people to hook one of their systems up in it. Then you’d be able to have the police catch them red-handed with stolen goods, AND you’d have their crime on video, too.

    • shthar says:

      Yeah, cuz anyone who’d open someone elses package sure wouldn’t steal a camera or a phone.

      • dangermike says:

        Or call the fbi to report a bomb when thy find a package containing a cellphone wired to whole bunch of batteries.

        • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

          That would mean that the UPS store has an x-ray machine. You can’t say you opened it because it was full of wires unless you open it and discover the wires.

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        Many phones come with this neat Global Positioning System thingie, and send signals right through the air…even signals that have pictures!

  8. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

    A smartphone with a camera taped to the bottom of the box and streaming video via Qik would have been much more effective.

  9. MTFaye says:

    This is like the time that I had trouble getting FedEx to actually deliver my packages. The employee would just make the tracking info as “resident not at home” or whatever their terminology was. This would happen for two or three days after the delivery date on every package I ordered that year. Obviously, they were just being too lazy to come by, since I was THERE at all the times they marked this. I complained, and didn’t get anywhere, since they didn’t seem to believe me. Eventually, I set up a time stamped video camera and recorded video of my front door. I cut it for ten minutes before and ten minutes after the time the employee claimed he tried to drop my package off. Armed with this, I called my local store, and eventually got in contact with a manager. I emailed them the video with an explanation. About twenty minutes later, some guy in plain clothes pulls up to my house in, presumably his own car and THROWS the package down on my porch without saying a word or knocking. It was annoying that I had to go through all that, but at least my packages started showing up on time. I wish more online stores would give you options for delivery, otherwise I would have just stopped using them a long time ago.

    That was several years ago. A little fuzzy on some of the details.

    • Hoot says:

      On time but broken?

      That doesn’t sound resolved to me!

      • MTFaye says:

        Well, luckily that package wasn’t breakable, but its still pretty damn annoying. Also, it wasn’t on time. It was two days after it was supposed to be delivered, all days marks as “resident not home” or whatever. This was a few hours after it was supposed to be delivered (again) for that particular day.

        • HogwartsProfessor says:

          Usually FedEx will do a refund or a credit if it was supposed to arrive on a certain day, like overnight or two day, and it doesn’t. Unless it’s weather-related. Their customer service people are pretty nice.

          Sounds like you just got a bad driver. It happens. Ground tends to be worse than Express because they’re subcontracted.

    • majic2516 says:

      Did you tape him throwing it too?

    • Kibit says:

      I bet you wished you had video of him throwing your package.

      I get so frustrated when delivery people do this. I’ve had it happen a few times. I know they didn’t try because I work in the room right next to my front door!

    • Pax says:

      See, in your situation, I’d’ve kept the camera running – and then called the manager back, with the NEW video, and said “now do the right thing, and fire his worthless ass.”

    • gman863 says:

      My guess it was FedEx Ground.

      FedEx Ground shit is shipped, sorted and delivered by a different staff than “regular” FedEx. In Houston, their staff is a bunch of fucking retards. TWICE this year they have returned a package to the sender that did NOT require a signature. No note on the door. I only found out about each one when the package was overdue and I checked the shipper’s tracking info on the FedEx web site.

      I’d better not go any further with my thoughts or I’ll have both Al Sharpton and Homeland Security taking turns on giving me a full body cavity search.

  10. Razor512 says:

    A while back, i ordered a few fans from, It was shipped using UPS,

    When I received the the package, the box looked damages at the tape area like it was opened and resealed. Upon checking the contents, 2 of the fans were missing. I reported the issue to UPS and also tigerdirect. resent the 2 missing items at no charge.

    Theft by shipping company workers happens sometimes but the most common problem that I face is if I am expecting a package form a company like fedex or dhl or any other company that likes to leave packages by the door. I have to make sure I am home because if they are left there for too long, it will get stolen.

    The main people who steal are the ones who stick those annoying ads on your door. They simply walk up to your door (no one really suspects a thing since they are seen placing the annoying ads. but if there is a package there, they will take it. I have lost many items this way including a security camera which I ordered as I wanted to install one by the door.

    With out rock solid proof it is hard to get any kind of compensation for the stolen items.

    It is really annoying that there is no law that prevents these people from coming onto your property. Many workers who do the ad distribution use that position as a chance to go on other peoples property while they are at work, and help them self to any package deliveries.

    NY sucks for mail deliveries. I had to remove the mailbox and get a mail slot for the door instead because about 10 years ago, someone stole the mail and attempted to steam money from my bank account. It is purely ridiculous that law enforcement does nothing to stop this.

    it has come to a point where if I order something that may be left by the door, I have to sit by the door and use my laptop to pass by the time and wait for the package delivery before those jerks get to it.

    • MattSaintCool says:

      You should have set up a security camera by the…


    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Can you get packages sent to your workplace? I do this when I order online, because so many companies won’t tell you how they’re shipping. That way either mail or UPS gets delivered, since there is always someone to sign for something or receive the mail.

      That sucks, really. It’s so frustrating when someone steals your stuff.

    • El-Brucio says:

      There was a rash of petty thefts for landscaping materials in one neighbourhood in my hometown one spring. Potted plants, tools, bags of potting soil, etc – basically stuff people had just picked up from the garden centre.

      The local neighbourhood watch eventually caught one of the newspaper delivery guys in the act. I think you really have to view *anyone* who has an excuse to approach your house as a potential thief.

  11. shthar says:

    Your best bet is plain old post office shipping with tracking, but WITHOUT insurance. Just another package among millions.

    I’ve sent thousands of packages over the years and the only one’s that completely dissapeared had insurance on them. Cuz they knew those were worth stealing.

    Oh, and forget getting any $ back from the post office. They’ll just say they have no proof what you sent was worth what you insured it for.

    • Shadowfax says:

      “You didn’t have a problem with that concept when you sold me the policy. Pay up.”

    • tborodarc says:

      I received money from USPS insurance two times: for damaged package and for a lost one. It took time, but now they even have online claim process with possibility to upload pics/documents.

  12. mythago says:

    California Guy should also report it to loss prevention at UPS, not just the store.

  13. Ducatisti says:

    He RECEIVED a box delivered by UPS which was missing the correct contents.

    He took his “alarm box” to a UPS STORE, which is not owned by UPS but by a franchise business. This place would have NEVER touched the original box.

    The only way to see if something was done at his local UPS center would have been to take his alarm box to that UPS center. Even then, the people at the front counter of the UPS center don’t touch the boxes in the regular UPS shipping system – his original package, if tampered with at his local center, would have been handled by the morning loaders/unloaders and his UPS driver.

    His actions make as much sense as having a problem with the food at McDonalds, then wearing a hidden camera to Burger King to find the culprit.

    He’s either not telling the entire story, or he’s paranoid and doesn’t understand the system.

    • AstroPig7 says:

      I can’t watch the video from here, but does it say that he didn’t originally pick up the package from this UPS Store?

    • rewind says:

      I think the point is, had it been picked up from the UPS Store, it was going to go through UPS distribution like any other UPS package. It is not like the UPS Store delivers packages now.

    • flip says:

      i think the audio from what I heard ( for some reason it sounds like crap on my work computer ) states he dropped off his laptop at this store to be sent out for repairs. Perhaps to HP, Toshiba, Dell……Who knows,…maybe even compaq. ( if it was a compaq, the theif did him a favor )

  14. psyonn says:

    UPS/etc…have huge theft percentages around the holidays. UPS does what it can, and often catches the greedy ones. But, you cannot catch them all. Just make sure anything you send or recieve in insured. I once heard a storr from UPS drivers of UPS finding a 50″ tv and other item in an employees home that had been “stolen” off his truck.

    • Ducatisti says:

      I’m sorry, this is untrue.

      UPS doesn’t hire any extra drivers during the holidays, nor do they hire extra part-time workers in their centers specifically for this time (the people who load/unload trucks). The only extra hires during Christmas are driver helpers, who go along with a regular driver, but have absolutely no way of stealing anything.

      UPS drivers are well-paid, have great benefits, and it is extremely rare for them to steal – I believe I hear of one instance every 10 years or so.

      Other UPS part-time employees have been known to steal, but because of the way packages are handled in the centers, it’s not an easy prospect. The last time I heard of this occurring was about 3 years ago, and it was a “ring” of 5 or 6 employees including one part-time supervisor. All the other employees were also part-time and UPS caught then prosecuted the culprits.

      By the way, FedEx ground drivers are contract employees, and because of this, they do have issues with some of them stealing. It’s still not a large number by any means, but does occur.

  15. Gregory says:

    If possible, elect for USPS delivery. If your mailbox is victim to theft, have a small mailbox and pick up the package at the post office after they leave a notice.

    Pretty clever setup anyway.

  16. KyBash says:

    If he didn’t have any C-4 handy, another thing that would have worked: a pad soaked with good old-fashioned bluing and a note that whoever gets it on their hands should immediately go to the nearest emergency room. ERs are required by law to report any suspected poisoning.

    I don’t want to sound smug, but I long ago learned how to prevent the ramant thefts/damaged goods/non-delivery by UPS. Everything gets shipped by USPS or I don’t buy from that company.

  17. oldwiz65 says:

    Around the holidays is the absolute worst time to ship anything. You have greedy delivery people, hoping to score a new Mac or electronics from Amazon or just about anything, plus you have the usual thieves who simply walk up to your house and take the package and disappear. Insurance doesn’t help if what you’ve ordered is simply missing from the package since the package was delivered. If you really want to be safe, ship with signature required and videotape the package and refuse it if there appears to be damage or evidence of tampering. With FedEx often my problem is they go to the wrong house and dump it there; there are FOUR houses in our 1950s street maze with the same street number but different streets and both FedEx and UPS often get confused so when we see “delivered” but it’s not there we call each other and find out who has it. Luckily we are all honest and pass the package on. I’ve complained to FedEx multiple times, but nothing happens.

  18. diagoro says:

    I’ve always had issues like this. Sent a few gas cards as gifts, they never appeared (envelope was empty). There was a record of the cards use about two blocks from the Fedex main hub.

    I’m wondering how important or wise it is to claim insurance now. Seems to merely be a way of noting what you’re shipping, giving potential thieves an inventory.

    Thank again, seems that half the stories I hear about shipping companies and insurance claims end up with flat denials (which I’ve also had).

  19. purecajn says:

    Does it really matter that the employees heard a noise coming from the box. It is still a federal offense to open another persons mail. Isn’t protocol to notify the police of a possible bomb, rather than exploring and taking a chance of setting an explosive off?

  20. Scurvythepirate says:

    I ordered an Oreck vacuum that came with a free smaller canister vacuum. When it arrived (delivered by UPS) the box was all torn up and wrapped all over with packing tape.

    Needless to say, when I opened what was left of the box, the canister vacuum was missing and in its place were 2 industrial garden hoses. The only way this could have happened was at one of the UPS sorting facilities.

    I kept the hoses and sent the vacuum back for a refund and went and bought one at a store.

    • Ducatisti says:

      Needless to say, everyone who works at a UPS sorting facility carries around two large industrial garden hoses just for such an occasion.

      • Scurvythepirate says:

        Well that’s because they were supposed to be shipped to a hardware store in Massachusetts. The packing slip was still attached to the hoses. So me and my father both got new garden hoses.

  21. 44Wadeable says:

    Apparently I’m the only person in history who has had any excellent UPS experiences.

  22. Mcshonky says:

    Go get ’em dick tracy

  23. Ducatisti says:

    No 44Wadeable, I’ve only been shipping via UPS since the 1970’s, and use them for hundreds of packages every day from work and a few from home every week for Ebay, and probably have less than 10 instances of problems over my 30+ years of working with them, so I guess there’s two of us who don’t have these problems.

  24. rodan1967 says:

    Don’t think UPS won’t steal your stuff. Bought a SAT Dish and receiver on ebay that magically disappeared at my local UPS warehouse. They could not locate the package when I went to pick it up and told me that it was lost in their facility. They gave me some 1800 # to call and put a tracer on it. Still not sure why they could not do that them self. Called # and they said they would have answer of where my package was within 24 hrs. When they finally found the package it had been opened and the receiver removed. Package was insured and I eventually was able to get my money back. But they could never give me answer as to why it had been opened and resealed.

  25. gman863 says:

    Given a choice, I always ship USPS. Unlike UPS and FedEx, their “loss prevention” department consists of Postal Inspectors enforcing Federal Laws.

    If something states “signature required” the Post Office is serious about it (unlike UPS, whose driver once left an $800 color laser printer at my front door. When I bitched at UPS, they swore the package had been signed for (likely by the UPS driver forging mine)). Ditto for a $300 package from Office Depot that was shipped to a client and signed for by someone who did not exist.

    I’ve aleady posted my thoughts on FedEx Ground in an earlier reply. I am currently fighting with them over the SECOND package this year that was returned to sender due to an “address issue” (The same address my mailman delivers to and even the morons at UPS can find).

    Final thought: Every few months there is a story in the news about USPS Postal Inspectors busting a mail carrier or clerk for either theft or dumping mail. When was the last time anyone heard a story about UPS or FedEx employees getting hauled off to jail? Unlike the Military, I doubt either company will ever repeal its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on employee theft.

  26. samandiriel says:

    Typo: “the package was making so much noice.”

    Is someone not running things thru spell checker today? That’s the second one…

  27. Buck99 says:

    I had, who I think was UPS, stealing a few laptops from Me too. Bought a laptop from an Apple distributor (Ingram Micro) that never showed up. They said their records showed UPS delivered it. I said Prove it, they didn’t get my signature. They shipped another that never showed up either. This time, someone forged my signature. The third time, I had them pack it in a blank box with no Apple logos on the box and it arrived just fine.