An EverFocus DVR, "The Chocolate," and the Rio Grande (a Thanksgiving tale)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

CIUDAD MIGUEL ALEMAN, Tam. (Mexico)--Perhaps you've heard the story about the DVR that came back to life after seven days of sleeping with the fishes. It is a tale with protagonists--an honest and hard-working security systems dealer and his faithful and trusty EverFocus DVR. It is a story with antagonists--a mischievous criminal complete with the deceptively sweet alias, "The Chocolate," and his accomplice, the shadowy Rio Bravo Del Norte, a.k.a. The Rio Grande.
EverFocus Electronics Corp., an international producer of CCTV equipment, first passed along the story to Security Systems News at ISC East. And at first blush it's just a 2007 incident in which an EverFocus EDR410H DVR helped authorities convict an apprehended home invader. The story seems like nothing out of the ordinary until one considers that the DVR in question spent a week in the mud at the bottom of a river in a Mexican resort town known more for its bass fishing than for its break-ins, before yielding its footage, complete with a positive ID of the perpetrator.
You see, Dr. Rafael Saenz Montemayor was concerned about a rash of break-ins and thefts at his weekend ranch in the resort town of Presa Marte on the Mexico side of the Rio Grande River across from McAllen, Texas. So Dr. Montemayor hired Raul Soriano, owner of Miguel Aleman-based Central de Alarmas Guerra, for the installation of some cameras and an EverFocus DVR, in an effort to stave off further break-ins and possibly record footage of the perpetrator caught in the act.
The next time the perpetrator broke in to Dr. Montemayor's home, he apparently noticed the DVR and, perhaps fearing its recorded contents could land him in jail, stole the device and threw it into the nearby Rio Grande.
The suspect, Guillermo Martinez "El Bombon" Garza was soon picked up by local authorities in connection with other crimes. In a plea bargain, Garza confessed to the break-ins at Dr. Montemayor's ranch and to confiscating and disposing of the DVR in the river.
Curious about the fate of the equipment he'd installed, Soriano made a trip to Dr. Montemayor's ranch in Presa Marte and, after a little fishing, retrieved the water logged, mud-packed device. "He was captured five days after the disappearance of the machine," Soriano said*, noting that it took another couple of days before Garza cooperated with authorities. "I asked about the machine. After seven days, he took us to the location, and the machine was submerged in the river," Soriano said.
After retrieving and drying out the DVR, Soriano decided to attempt to bring the device back to life: "I took it to a place to clean it out. After a few hours of trying to remove the mud and garbage, I took it to a technician, but he said there was nothing he could do. The machine was destroyed. However, I connected the machine, and it started to function. All of this process ended up being nine days."
Soriano was surprised to find the break-in footage, complete with video of Garza preparing to steal the DVR, still in pristine condition on the hard drive. Later reassembled, and hooked up, the DVR worked for shocked onlookers at local security distributor InAlert's mini expo, trade show and training sessions, which took place at the New McAllen Convention Center in McAllen, Texas from Sept. 4 through 5, 2008.
Glenn Patrizio, director of sales Latin America & Caribbean for LRG International, a manufacturer's representative for EverFocus, remembers his awe upon hearing the tale and seeing the beaten-looking machine work at the InAlert expo. "I could not believe it," Patrizio said. "You're talking about an electronic piece of equipment that in no way, shape or form was ever designed to work in an IP67 condition," Patrizio said, explaining that IP67 designation means fit for outside use. "This equipment was never intended to be in a condition that either receives moisture--and when I say moisture I'm talking about humidity--or could possibly be submerged. There's no reason that that machine, when he cleaned it up, that it should have worked. It should have not worked."
Soriano still owns the mythical, resurrected DVR that slept with the fishes, and El Bombon is now serving a 12-year sentence, reduced in a plea bargain from 15 years, for his various break-ins and thefts.

* Translated from the original Spanish with help from Glenn Patrizio.