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Recently I was staying in a hotel and I had some very important belongings stolen there in the hotel which is definite. The problem is that no one entered my room after I left the room (2 times for breakfast and lunch) in the CCTV footage. The person in question is the the guy who runs the hotel for the owner as only he knew about my belongings. There was only one way of entry through the door.

Now my questions are:

  1. How can he enter the room without being caught by CCTV?
  2. How can I check if the CCTV or the recording's were tampered with?
  3. Is there any history records in the system through which it can be checked?
  • 2
    As the owner he has physical access to the CCTV system which means he can do anything. – André Borie May 21 '16 at 6:00
  • " no one entered my room after i left the room(2 times for breakfast and lunch) in the CCTV footage". Did you see the footage? I ask this because, for a hotel owner, it's much easier to simply turn off the cameras than to edit the video or do some kind of Hollywood-style real-time feed editing. – A. Darwin May 21 '16 at 6:53
  • 1
    There is no such thing as a "CCTV system". It's like people who just think all databases are the same black boxes are "databases". A lot of the components to the answers to your question depend on what CCTV system and how it is implemented ? e.g. a very basic starting point is whether it is digital or VCR.... but that's only the tip of the iceberg of the information you would need to give us in order for us to provide you with a reasonable answer to your question ! – Little Code May 21 '16 at 7:36
  • A. Darwin: "…you should definitely report the theft to the police. They have the authority, and possibly the skills…".•• return •• Everything else may play against you: waste of time, damage to evidence… – dan May 21 '16 at 8:45
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First of all, it is possible (especially for the owner of the hotel) to edit the CCTV footage. However, I don't think this was the case.

In fact, you haven't yet seen the CCTV footage and you just relied on what the security personnel told you. As such, it's more likely that the owner simply disabled the CCTV cameras, than he edited the footage either during or after the theft. Note that he can technically disable them, since the internal cameras are not usually connected to a police control room, nor to a security company's one. As such, my answer to 1) would be: he asked someone to turn off the cameras, and then entered your room (or sent someone else to do it).

This option is not only easier to technically implement, but it's also easier to get away with. In fact, should the police step in and ask the owner to show them the footage, he could say that the cameras were down for an error or for maintenance. If he was "smart" enough to keep the cameras down for an extended period of time before and after the theft, he could get away with it. On the other hand, the police could spot something suspicious in the tampered footage and continue the investigation.

In any case, the bottom line to 1) is: anyone having complete physical access to a security system is able to do anything to it. This is a variation of one of the Ten Immutable Laws of Security (https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh278941.aspx), which usually applies to computers and computer networks, but actually holds for any kind of security system.

By the way, you said "There was only one way of entry through the door". This is most likely not true, unless your room has no windows. However, if you didn't let the windows open before leaving the room or if the windows weren't broken or tampered with, this option can be ruled out.

You also asked:

2) How can I check if the CCTV or the recording's were tampered with?

This is very difficult. First, if the owner actually disabled the CCTV cameras, there is nothing you can do, as there will be nothing to check. If he didn't, you could theoretically check for video tampering, but you should have:

a) permission from the owner to have at least a copy of the footage on a DVD;

AND

b) technical skills and tools to analyze the footage.

Note that it's not easy to analyze a video and check if it has been tampered with. As an example, look at the technologies used by the FBI in order to do this kind of analysis: https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/about-us/lab/forensic-science-communications/fsc/april2003/lacey.htm (Phase V, mostly). Their forensic scientists also have had extensive training on the subject. You, on the other hand, have most likely not the tools nor the training to check a video for tampering.

Now, I'm not a CCTV expert, but I think that, if the police suspected some kind of tampering in a CCTV footage, they could try to find evidences of this on the control room computers, which requires complete physical access to the control room. This is something that you cannot do, in any case: keeping the "skills and tools" issue aside, there is no way a hotel could give you complete access to their security control room.

3) Is there any history records in the system through which it can be checked?

It widely depends on the system used by the hotel.

I think you could try to see the CCTV footage, and perhaps to get hold of a copy, but in the end you should definitely report the theft to the police. They have the authority, and possibly the skills, to do some of the things I mentioned above.

  • 2
    "but in the end you should definitely report the theft to the police. " .... and if his stuff was insured (which it should have been !) then the insurance company will probably mandate a police report anyway ! – Little Code May 21 '16 at 7:46
  • I agree, but sometimes people don't think about ensuring important stuff, so remembering somebody to file a police report is IMO always good. – A. Darwin May 21 '16 at 7:48

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