[hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it?

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[hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? Tim Saylor 7/20/11 6:09 AM
Pumping Station: One has had a few things disappear in the last month or so.  Mostly small cheap things like usb sticks or webcams, but notably a large sum of cash from our soda fridge.  We've made the cash harder to take but we can't bolt down everything in the space, so we're thinking of ways to solve the problem.  Have any of your spaces had this problem, and what have you done about it?
Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? Joe Ferguson 7/20/11 6:19 AM
At Midsouth Makers we (luckily) haven't had any theft issues to deal with. We do have 6 webcams covering our space that are often discussed. Members are definitely aware they are on camera so it acts as a decent deterrent. My years in retail management taught me if you eliminate the temptation / opportunity, you'll help eliminate the shrink (theft / loss). The only thing of real value we have would be tools / computer parts. Both of which are covered by a couple of the cameras. The only other thing is our soda cash collection box. Myself and our treasurer both check this box at least once a week and we collect the money if it's ~>$30. If someone did clean it out, it's not like they would get a whole lot. We'd definitely struggle more with why someone would raid that than recovering the little they'd get. We also carry some insurance, so in the event something major does happen to us, we'd have a way to recovery. While cheap things like you mentioned aren't worth filing insurance claims, maybe some web cams (or more cameras / different locations) may help you all out a bit more.

On Wed, Jul 20, 2011 at 8:09 AM, Tim Saylor <tim.s...@gmail.com> wrote:
Pumping Station: One has had a few things disappear in the last month or so.  Mostly small cheap things like usb sticks or webcams, but notably a large sum of cash from our soda fridge.  We've made the cash harder to take but we can't bolt down everything in the space, so we're thinking of ways to solve the problem.  Have any of your spaces had this problem, and what have you done about it?
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Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? Koen Martens 7/20/11 6:21 AM
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We had a burglary recently, with a break-in. And apart from tools getting lost (which
is mostly because we're sloppy) and some stuff being thrown away without consensus
(which we solved by making a 'purgatory table' with a 28-days timeout before anything
goes out.

As for the burglars, we've gone completely post-9-11 about that and installed
barbed wire outside, used fake cams (which i want to see gone because they give
a really sucky impression), and made lots of plans no-one carried out yet :)

- - gmc

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Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? Agent 5 7/20/11 6:23 AM
We've not had theft issues from our members or neighbors, at The Brain Tank, due to a generally good environment and. However, a proper coin operated Soda Machine might be a good idea for you. I've found them for free on Craigslist in the past. You also could setup one of the webcams you still have as a deterrent.
We don't record video but our RFID Access Control System requires you swipe when you enter and leave. Protocol states you are responsible for lost items if they take-a-walk under your watch. We can always go back to the log to check. RFID is a very good idea for it's ability to audit.

-Dave Johnson

On Wed, Jul 20, 2011 at 9:09 AM, Tim Saylor <tim.s...@gmail.com> wrote:
Pumping Station: One has had a few things disappear in the last month or so.  Mostly small cheap things like usb sticks or webcams, but notably a large sum of cash from our soda fridge.  We've made the cash harder to take but we can't bolt down everything in the space, so we're thinking of ways to solve the problem.  Have any of your spaces had this problem, and what have you done about it?
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Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? h0uz3 7/20/11 6:32 AM

Hi,

At shackspace we had a "open cashier" for a certain type of soda which was
completely removed by someone. We still don't know whether it was stolen or
accidentially thrown away. Usually people miss personal things because they
were used without their permission or stuff doesn't get back to where it
belongs.

For about a year we had a "open cashier" for sweets (vending machine for
sweets came in about 3 months ago, drinks were always in a vm), there were
slight differences between sweets "bought" and money "paid", but it didn'd
become a big issue.

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Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? Jan Lieven 7/20/11 6:36 AM
We've had the moneybox for drinks (with 100€ in it) stolen one time.
Unfortunately the culprit has never been found.
(We went to the police, too...)
Vanishing tools usually appear again once someone complains that
$tool is missing...
Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? David Powell 7/20/11 6:54 AM
At Harford Hackerspace we don't collect money for snacks and drinks. When we start running out of drinks we take turns buying more. Our space is monitored by several cameras and the space is owned by one of our members and he lives literally 20 feet away. I think what makes me comfortable about our members is knowing they all have good jobs. They may use tools and forget to put them back but they simply don't have a need to steal them. If I ever did suspect a member was stealing from us I would have to get to the bottom of it even if it were only $30 from petty cash. We only have 11 members so I would ask each of them individually if they took the money just in case they took it to go purchase something for the space. If I knew when it happened I would look at the video archives to see who it could have possibly been. 

I just don't think it will ever be a problem for us because all of our members pay their dues. The stuff we own at the space was paid for by the members. We don't have any freeloaders. We make it well known that if you can't afford your dues then you simply tell us you can't pay them. We all know that people have rough financial times. We are all very good friends and would not have a problem asking to borrow money from another member. Everyone contributes equally and they all feel like the space is their own space.

If someone is stealing from you then you need to do everything you can to find out who it is and put a stop to it. 
Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? Tim Saylor 7/20/11 7:23 AM
RFID and Cameras are the ideas on the table for us, though just treating some webcams as security cameras won't work.  The camera that was taken was plugged into the server rack and running.  We're sticking cameras on the ceiling now.  We already have access points up there so it isn't too hard.

As for culture being a deterrent, I expect that's what's worked for us this far.  However, we now have 90+ members and the directors and people who have been around since the beginning can't possibly get to know everyone.  Do any bigger spaces have some experience to share?
Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? overflo 7/22/11 9:17 AM
> Have any of your spaces had this problem, and what have you
> done about it?

ohai!
at metalab vienna we had some trouble with thieves.
there were some laptops stolen and money from the open fridge-collection
box went missing.
one time a camera was stolen from the last corner of the lab behind 3
doors, where no stranger would ever go and find it..

we discussed this a lot and had ideas like tagging a decoy with
technology similar to the one found in shopping malls..
some folks said cameras are a good idea.. most members are against
surveillance tough..

we decided that we should educate members and raise the awareness that
the metalab is an open space.
if you wouldnt leave your laptop at a parkbank you shouldnt leave it on
a table at the lab.

if you wouldn't leave your camera in a plastic bag in a public library,
you shouldn't do so at the lab..

there is simply no way to make an environment secure without becoming
guantanamo.

security = loss of freedom.
freedom is a highly valued good at the metalab so we rather not start
taking it down because of some stolen goods.

of course there is a bitter taste from the whole scenario and to know
that there are thieves amongst us gives me the shivers.

we started to implement a payment system that should replace the open
cash collection at the soda fridge, but we didnt finish it.


:*
-flo


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Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? ryan martin 7/24/11 7:58 PM
C7 has had it's first major theft recently, with a laptop and a few guitars walking off. We are putting up security cameras now in the hopes that this will help, but it's really disheartening when it happens.  
Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? John Arclight 7/24/11 8:11 PM
We've had a couple of things go missing, but it was at a large public
party. Now we put away anything that is small and desirable before we
open the doors. For the most part, we have nothing of value that can
be moved without a big truck.

Also, pro tip: Don't leave the donation jar in the bathroom. Someone
pilfered the change out of our "donation tube" during another party.

We have a pretty small number of key holders, so nobody is worried too
much about "insider theft."  Our building is also alarmed, which is
definitely what chased away the thieves that broke into another
tenant's warehouse.

One thing about cameras: You really need either high-quality cameras
or a camera at a choke point with good lighting. Otherwise, you'll end
up with a bunch of useless, blurry pictures of people stealing your
stuff.

Arclight

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Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? Agent 5 7/25/11 11:33 AM
IR cameras rock.cheap and worth every penny.


-Dave Johnson
Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? Vicarious 7/25/11 12:19 PM
Our only camera in our hackerspace is a cheap USB webcam :/
Pity that shiny IP cams are expensive.. If anyone would like to donate one, feel free to do so :)

Greetings,

Vicarious
ACKspace
Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? Peter Kuhm 7/25/11 11:34 PM
On Mon, 25 Jul 2011 21:19:02 +0200 Vicarious wrote:

> Our only camera in our hackerspace is a cheap USB webcam :/
> Pity that shiny IP cams are expensive.. If anyone would like to donate one, feel free to do so :)

Once upon a time there were hackers that didn't immediately call for
installation of surveillance equipment.

I know it's annoying when money from the cashier has been stolen,
when equipment is missing and you have to refrain from lending certain
tools to the space because there's a good chance that it isn't there
any more when you need it, or not in good working condition.

Just saying, those were the days,
Peter

 
> On 25 jul. 2011, at 20:33, Agent 5 wrote:
>
> > IR cameras rock.cheap and worth every penny.
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Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? h0uz3 7/26/11 12:36 AM

Hi,

> Once upon a time there were hackers that didn't immediately call for
> installation of surveillance equipment.

This is still true, but I am afraid some people have been "worked" by
those who always call for surveillance.

I keep my Mac Pro and my complete DSLR-Equipment at the space, accessible
to anyone. Still, some people are asking if they are allowed to use the mac
- even though they have their personal login for it! :)

I'd rather invest a lot of time into teaching people about careful use of
$equipment and respect towards eachother, than to install only one
surveillance camera.

This might work in some places, unfortunately, this isnt easily adaptable
to all spaces.

Just my thoughts.

</h0uz3>

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Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? Koen Martens 7/26/11 12:59 AM
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On Tue, Jul 26, 2011 at 09:36:54AM +0200, h0uz3 wrote:
> > Once upon a time there were hackers that didn't immediately call for
> > installation of surveillance equipment.
>
> This is still true, but I am afraid some people have been "worked" by
> those who always call for surveillance.
>
> I keep my Mac Pro and my complete DSLR-Equipment at the space, accessible
> to anyone. Still, some people are asking if they are allowed to use the mac
> - even though they have their personal login for it! :)
>
> I'd rather invest a lot of time into teaching people about careful use of
> $equipment and respect towards eachother, than to install only one
> surveillance camera.
>
> This might work in some places, unfortunately, this isnt easily adaptable
> to all spaces.
>
> Just my thoughts.

Unfortunately, we have a shelter for drug-addicts across the street. They tend
not to care too much about education, more about breaking windows and quickly
grabbing some stuff to fence for their next shot.

The cams we had at the space together with a simple 'space loop' (basically a
wire going all around the perimeter of the space, interrupted at windows with
a break switch -> window opens, circuit broken, alert on irc) prevented a
recent break-in from resulting in everything worth more than EUR 10 being
stolen. When the space loop alert came in, people who were still up had a look
at the cam and noticed something fishy was going on. They immediatelly went over
to check it out, but upon hearing voices did not go into the space but called
the police (you know, nothing is worth a fight with a knife-carrying burglar).

Anyway, when the police came the thieves had already fled of course. They took
one or two items and some money, but left a whole pile of laptops, audio gear
and more right by the window where they had been piling up the goods for taking.

Saillant detail: they also took a bottle of mate from the fridge. It was still
on the bar, one sip taken. I guess they figured out it was not beer pretty quickly :)

- - gmc

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Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? h0uz3 7/26/11 1:33 AM

Hi Koen,

> Unfortunately, we have a shelter for drug-addicts across the street.
They
> tend not to care too much about education, more about breaking windows
> and quickly grabbing some stuff to fence for their next shot.

Well, this is indeed the kind of situation when heavily armed
windows/doors and cam surveillance are your best friend. Protection against
burglars is unfortunately necessary, some places need it more than others.

I had my mind on "things getting stolen by visitors". Completely different
situation, anyway. This discussion is about two similiar, but in fact
slightly different problems spaces can get in.

I used to live in a really drug-addict-fled area (Frankfurt/Main,
Bahnhofsviertel, Germany), my car got broken into and was severely damaged.
It was right in front of a surveillance cam, which helped the officials to
get me a ticket whenever I stood longer in my parking space than allowed,
but when someone raped my Audi the cameras where offline for some reason.

> Saillant detail: they also took a bottle of mate from the fridge. It was
> still on the bar, one sip taken. I guess they figured out it was not
> beer pretty quickly :)

Tasteless drug-addicts! Who needs beer when he can have Mate!

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Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? Ron Bean 7/26/11 5:02 AM
>> Once upon a time there were hackers that didn't immediately call for
>> installation of surveillance equipment.
>
>This is still true, but I am afraid some people have been "worked" by  
>those who always call for surveillance.

Our original reason for installing the cameras was so that members could
see if any other members were at the space, and to generally advertise
that there was activity going on. We've even discused building a
telepresence robot, but that's still at the idea stage.

One time a member posted to our mailing list "Is anyone at the space?"
and we replied "we've been here all day and we're about to leave, where
have you been?"


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Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? Jaromil 7/26/11 5:45 AM

re all,

On Tue, 26 Jul 2011, h0uz3 wrote:

> > Unfortunately, we have a shelter for drug-addicts across the
> > street.  They tend not to care too much about education, more
> > about breaking windows and quickly grabbing some stuff to fence
> > for their next shot.
>
> Well, this is indeed the kind of situation when heavily armed
> windows/doors and cam surveillance are your best friend. Protection
> against burglars is unfortunately necessary, some places need it
> more than others.

sadly, yes.

We have accumulated plenty of such experiences in the past.

The first Italian hacklab, the Freaknet in Catania, was burglarized
repeatedly by someone who was part of the social center (the squatted
building hosting the lab). Knowing who he was didn't helped either,
situation escalated, noone got hurt, yet some computers fly out of the
window and on the mid-term the hacklab moved out.

Solution: place your hackerspace in a self-standing situation (as
hackerspace patterns suggest) rather than mixing within a larger
situation, so to say being surrounded by entropy.

Lesson learned: even when you know who is the burglar, it is very
difficult to control your reaction and decide to do "something wise".

Another episode worth mentioning is the ASCII experience (more people
from that collective are reading i guess) where we had the ambitious
goal of creating free internet spaces on the street and also running
hackerspace-type research inside, resulting in a mix of street-level
access (open to the public at fixed times) but also a lab having some
interesting gear inside. Our spaces were squatted out of empty
locations, the last one was out of the city center, in Javastraat
which was then considered one of the streets with higher criminality
in Amsterdam.

ASCII in Javastraat was burglarized twice, despite a *police* camera
was placed right in front of its entry (which we protested of course,
but that's another story). After the first robbery we radically
changed the window by welding metal bars with glass in between. We
thought that was tight enough, but the second break in passed through
a slightly larger hole on the side of the window, presumably by a
humanoid body of the size of a 6 years old kid. shocking.

The decision taken by some of our members was to send a message to the
neighbourhood: two soldiers (full black-ops clothing) would stand in
front of the place all night, for a week or so, keeping the outpost. i
guess the neighborhood was impressed since there was no break in
anymore, yet i'm not sure that was a good measure either, fighting
violence with violence is risky and unsustainable on the long term.

Lessons learned: cameras don't help. and police neither does.

Possible solutions: fence place properly against all imaginable brute
forcing.

my last word on the topic, what i've learned from the street life so
far is: *better safe than sorry*. and you are also sorry when you know
something is actually happening, yet you have little means to prevent
it. i mean that if you keep the place well shut and predict all
possible flaws you are better off than taking measures timed on the
eventuality that a break in has already happened.

what make me feel very uncomfortable is when a common place is
paranoid: if there isn't trust inside then it's not welcoming.
despite the bad things that happen now and then, its important to
avoid that a space gets polluted by a feeling of constant treath or
constant surveillance (two faces of the same medal).

and it is very important to avoid being suspicious of unknown people,
sometimes also a retired engineer might look like a junkie :)

empathy helps, prejudice doesn't.


ciao

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Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? Donald J Ankney 7/26/11 9:59 PM

Perhaps another lesson learned is that squats are not a safe/secure place to store gear/toys.

On Jul 26, 2011, at 5:45 AM, Jaromil wrote:


re all,

On Tue, 26 Jul 2011, h0uz3 wrote:

repeatedly by someone who was part of the social center (the squatted
building hosting the lab). Knowing who he was didn't helped either,




interesting gear inside. Our spaces were squatted out of empty
locations, the last one was out of the city center, in Javastraat
which was then considered one of the streets with higher criminality
in Amsterdam.


Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? webmind 7/26/11 10:42 PM
On 2011-07-27 06:59, Donald J Ankney wrote:
>
> Perhaps another lesson learned is that squats are not a safe/secure
> place to store gear/toys.

Because non-squats never get robbed...

Sorry but that's a load of bullshit. If anything, people in squats tent
to be more security aware not less.

w.

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Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? ryan martin 7/26/11 10:50 PM
Woot.com has a pretty great security system today, and sellout.woot has a smaller one.

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Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? John Arclight 7/26/11 11:29 PM
I think we need to make a distinction between outside threats (hacker
spaces usually aren't situated in the nicest areas) and being too
paranoid about each other. We have a methadone clinic down the street
from our space, and also have a higher than average number of addicts
in the neighborhood.  Our security systems don't really need to
protect against other hackers hacking our RFID cards, but more against
someone putting a brick through the window and trying to make off with
a computer.

Most businesses here have an alarm, but monitoring usually costs
$10-25/month, plus the always-rising cost of a land line.  We've
already built a monitoring script for the Open Access Control that
works great running on a Linux PC. The next step is to port it over to
a Sheevaplug computer for very low power consumption and heat
generation when it's locked in a cabinet.

If someone wants a "cheap and dirty" Internet security monitoring
solution, we used to have an old PC with a parallel port and a Linux
app that could monitor pin state changes and send e-mail or other
alerts.  I like msmtp for command-line email (even works with gmail)
and SMS alerting.

Arclight

Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? Jan Lieven 7/27/11 6:45 AM
On Tue, 26 Jul 2011 23:29:03 -0700
John Arclight <arcl...@gmail.com> wrote:

> I think we need to make a distinction between outside threats (hacker
> spaces usually aren't situated in the nicest areas) and being too
> paranoid about each other. We have a methadone clinic down the street
> from our space, and also have a higher than average number of addicts
> in the neighborhood.  Our security systems don't really need to
> protect against other hackers hacking our RFID cards, but more against
> someone putting a brick through the window and trying to make off with
> a computer.
Our space has a methadone clinic one floor above our rooms and a
prostitute information centre next door.
The only time we had something stolen (the money box for drinks, as
mentioned before) was when someone forgot to close the door when he/she
left for a few minutes.
We are not even sure if it was one of the addicts or a fellow hacker,
since there was a lot of bad blood and personal grudge in the space at
that time.
We haven't installed any cameras or motion sensors since then, because
most of our members thought privacy is more important. We just raised
the sum our insurance would cover in case of a theft.

Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? Don Ankney 7/27/11 12:45 PM
Of course other places get robbed. But should a squat have a realistic expectation of exclusivity in the use of a space and its contents?

On 7/26/2011 10:42 PM, webmind wrote:
On 2011-07-27 06:59, Donald J Ankney wrote:
Perhaps another lesson learned is that squats are not a safe/secure
place to store gear/toys.
Because non-squats never get robbed...

Sorry but that's a load of bullshit. If anything, people in squats tent
to be more security aware not less.

w.



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Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? webmind 7/28/11 7:12 AM
Hate to start a discussion on squatting on this list as it's OT, but one
short reply:

This accounts for the Netherlands, I have little experience with squats
in other places and am not too familiar with the legal situations there.
A squat is effectively only different from another place in the sense
that the owner didn't give permission for you to live there. Besides
that, you still have your basic rights regarding the use of a space. So
nobody is allowed to enter without the inhabitants permission. The only
people not always obeying this is the police and that's 9 out of 10
times -after- a court-case with the owner. In other cases they usually
use excuses like illegal parties or fire-safety. Ok, and burglars
sometimes try to get in. In that sense, there is a higher sense of
security, since squatters actively take measures to keep the police out,
which happens to help to keep to burglars out as well.

As far the squatters themselves are concerned, they're normal people.
Perhaps with a higher percentage of being anarchist, anti-capitalist and
in those cases there is usually a higher respect for each other than
average.

The only things against it I can think of is that -certain- places tend
to be more open/trusting regarding who comes in and out, but that's not
a property of specificly squats or squatters, just certain people.

ASCII had in all it's years residing in squats only 1 burglary/theft,
PUSCII in even more years as a squat, none.

w.

On 2011-07-27 21:45, Don Ankney wrote:
> Of course other places get robbed. But should a squat have a realistic
> expectation of exclusivity in the use of a space and its contents?
>
> On 7/26/2011 10:42 PM, webmind wrote:
>> On 2011-07-27 06:59, Donald J Ankney wrote:
>>> Perhaps another lesson learned is that squats are not a safe/secure
>>> place to store gear/toys.
>> Because non-squats never get robbed...
>>
>> Sorry but that's a load of bullshit. If anything, people in squats tent
>> to be more security aware not less.
>>
>> w.
>>
>>
>>
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>
>
>
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Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? Frantisek Apfelbeck 7/28/11 7:32 AM
Hi guys,
I've been actually hosted by Webmind in their squad during my food&beverage tour
around Europe and I've really enjoyed my stay.

In other words quite clean, organised place with well stock kitchen, Internet
connection and good company. I did not have a clue that I'm in the squad before
I've been told so.

Once more thanks for hosting, hope to see you soon! (are you coming to CCC
camp?).

From Ireland,

Sincerely,

Frantisek

Re: [hackerspaces] Do your spaces have a theft problem? How do you deal with it? Jaromil 7/29/11 10:03 AM
On Wed, 27 Jul 2011, Don Ankney wrote:

>    Of course other places get robbed. But should a squat have a
>    realistic expectation of exclusivity in the use of a space and
>    its contents?

i've been willingly leaving asides this discussion political concerns
regarding the systematic emptiness of private property in capitalist
systems, for instance evoked by this recent initiative in NYC
http://www.596acres.org/lot_in_your_life.pdf
these are concerns that motivated many of us to squat not just for a
urban farm, but for any social activity like an hackerspace for
instance.

the problem of exclusivity applies also to "non-squatted" spaces,
at least this is my experience and i guess also that of who wrote
hackerspace patterns.

as webmind argues, you can squat a place with your crew and then
defending it from "lawful" intervention might as well serve the
purpose of defending it for burglary.

the fact that you are squatting a place doesn't means that you are
running a social service for sociopathic behaviour (to the contrary,
to do it properly you'll need to team up with well capable people),
yet it holds true that people squatting are inclined towards inclusion
of those who are marginalised by capitalism.

squatting is a critical approach to private property and its nurtured
by social cohesion, apart from that all problematics applying to a
rented space will apply to it and vice-versa.

ciao

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