For almost 25 years Rugged Cams has made specialized security camera systems for car washes. In fact we have a division of our company, CarWashCameras.com, that specializes in security cameras and other equipment especially for car washes (over 9,000 car washes us our equipment). A few years ago one of our customers at a car wash in East Texas, came to us wanting cameras to solve a mystery at their facility.
One particular car wash bay had been showing significantly less revenue than any of the other bays. Normally, this car wash bay had historically been the highest grossing bay every single month. However, for the past 6 months the revenue in that bay was down more than 75% over the previous months. The owner and manager could not figure out why this was happening, after all this bay still looked busier than the others, since it was the closest bay to the street and the easiest to enter and leave from. It was a mystery.
The owner and employees were watching this bay and the customers closely, but everything seemed normal. Each customer was still spending an average amount, and was washing what looked to be the average time per customer, but yet revenues were sharply down.
So the owner came to Rugged Cams, and we designed a system with cameras and lenses that could clearly see the coin and bill acceptors in each bay. We also included a few extra cameras, not only looking at other parts of the facility, but also looking at license tags of cars leaving.
One of our dealers installed the system for the car wash owner. Once they had the system up and running, then optimized, they let it run for almost 2 weeks. After that, they decided to review the archived footage to see if they could notice something that had not been evident to them before.
What they found, was a pair of very ingenious thieves. The footage showed that late at night on a slower weekday, a car pulled up and a man and woman jump out. They then proceeded to go around to the trunk of the vehicle and pulled out what looked like an old style canister vacuum that seemed to be connected to a battery in their trunk. So while the women was getting the vacuum ready, the man grabbed a tire iron from the trunk and proceeded to pry open the coin and bill acceptor door. Once he had the door pried open, the woman grabbed the hose of the vacuum, which the car wash owner could see had a 3 foot long flexible pipe taped on the end of it. She then proceeded to push the pipe down the chute that the money falls into on its way down to the secure vault. Once the hose was inserted all the way down the pipe, they then turned on the vacuum and deftly vacuumed all the quarters directly out of the vault. The couple then calmly put all their tools in their trunk, got back in their car, and drove away.
The car wash owner, and indeed, everyone else who eventually saw the footage, was amazed. Other car wash owners had never seen this before and were so alarmed, that they immediately made adjustments to their facilities so this couldn’t happen to them.
But that was not the end of the story, as the couple pulled out of the car wash facility, the camera that had been installed to look at license plates, clearly recorded the Texas tag number of the thieves car. Within 3 days police had captured the couple and confiscated their money sucking system. They were eventually sentenced to 3-5 years in the Texas prison system.