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    KHQ News Story on Strain Security Systems

    This was an interview done with Mark Strain on our business done by a local Spokane news team from KHQ back in 2008. Enjoy!


    Fox 11 News Coverage

    Below is a story done by Fox 11 News in California back in 2002 on our RDSS system and polecam, both in use by the L.A. County Sheriff's Dept. and both greatly updated and changed since then. Enjoy!


    Of Hidden Eyes, Undetected Ears

    By  Linn Parish

     Article featured in the Spokane Journal of Business on 03/14/03

    Mark Strain, owner of Strain Security & Night Vision Systems, assembles surveillance equipment and customizes night-vision gear.
    Mark Strain, owner of Strain Security & Night Vision Systems, assembles surveillance equipment and customizes night-vision gear.

    A yellowed Sears, Roebuck & Co. sticker on the screen door of Mark Strain’s Spokane home says the premises are monitored by electronic devices.

    Upon entering the basement where Strain operates his business, Strain Security & Night Vision Systems, one sees a room full of high-tech gadgets and quickly realizes the place isn’t protected by off-the-shelf stuff.

    Strain Security designs and assembles covert video-surveillance equipment and night-vision gear for law-enforcement agencies, private investigators, companies, and in some cases, individuals. By covert, Strain means that the subject of the surveillance likely doesn’t know that his actions or words are being monitored.

    “I have to be meticulous about who I sell this stuff to,” the 46-year-old Strain says. “I’m usually a pretty good judge of character.”

    In Strain’s shop, bulky briefcases that open into wireless video-surveillance transmitter kits line one counter. Cell-phone-like devices recline in each kit, but don’t try to make a call with one of them. They’re dummies that have miniature cameras built into one end so they can be used to monitor a subject surreptitiously. The video can be transmitted up to 300 meters.

    A large, not-so-discreet camera stands on a tripod nearby. It can pick up good detail three miles away, and also can be operated remotely.

    Propped against the counter is a pole camera, which is an infrared video camera attached to one end of a long pole that can be used to provide a view around a corner or other obstacle without the user being seen. The infrared technology allows the device to be used in complete darkness.

    Shelving holds idle surveillance monitors and night-vision technology, including pilots’ helmets with attached night-vision goggles.

    The large, professional-looking shop is one of the reasons Strain and his wife, Sheila, decided to buy their Spokane home last year after they moved here from California. The Strains had run the business for seven years out of a small commercial space in Simi Valley, California, but decided to operate it as a home-based business upon moving here.

    The Strains, both of whom have family members in the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene area, decided to move here for the quality-of-life reasons often cited by Californians who relocate.

    Yet, Strain says nearly his entire customer base is in California, and nearly all of his sales still involve clientele there. He expects to start prospecting soon for customers in the Inland Northwest.

    Of Strain Security’s customers, about 60 percent are law-enforcement agencies and private-investigation firms. The other 40 percent are corporations and private individuals.

    One of Strain’s customers is Martin Pelayo, president of Woodland Hills, Calif.-based Global Protection & Intelligence Inc., which offers executive protection, including bodyguard services, to high-profile public figures. Global Protection often is asked to provide discreet protection, which requires it in some cases to monitor a client from afar, Pelayo says.

    Over the past several years, Global Protection repeatedly has called on Strain Security to customize surveillance equipment for different circumstances.

    “I give the scenario, and he comes up with the answers,” Pelayo says of Strain. “He knows what I need for certain situations.”

    Strain says surveillance-equipment sales and service account for about 90 percent of Strain Security’s revenues. The other 10 percent comes from sales of the night-vision gear, which has become more common in retail stores and is used both by law-enforcement personnel and sportsmen.



    Security sweeps

    In addition to making surveillance equipment and customizing night-vision equipment, Strain Security offers technical surveillance countermeasures, which involves sweeping a client’s quarters looking for audio and video transmitters, wireless bugs, and telephone taps. Basically, he’s looking for some of the same types of products that Strain Security sells.

    Typically, he says, a corporation will enlist Strain Security for technical surveillance countermeasures when it suspects that proprietary information is being compromised.

    “It sounds paranoid, doesn’t it?” Strain says. “It does, but it’s a reality.”

    To conduct such sweeps, Strain uses an electronic device that detects signals from transmitters and other bugs. He estimates that at best, he finds something on one out of every 10 sweeps. When he does find something, however, it typically involves the theft of valuable information by an employee or a third party, and the customer is glad to have uncovered the problem.

    Strain says the technical surveillance countermeasures portion of the business is one that he’d like to develop in the Spokane area.

    He says those services accounted for a significant portion of Strain Security’s business when it was in California, but the company hasn’t had any such jobs since moving.

    Last year, Strain Security had $200,000 in annual sales, Strain says. That likely will be down this year, he says, since he’s focusing on garnering new business here.

    The equipment that Strain Security sells ranges in price from $500 to $25,000 an item. Strain often assembles the equipment himself, although with larger orders he works with a Taiwanese manufacturer.

    Cameras, monitors, and other technology are common parts of the equipment Strain makes, but he’s had to get creative with some components. For example, the pole portion of the pole cam is a microphone stand. A part of the night-vision goggles is made of the body portion of a Maglite-type flashlight.

    Whatever he uses in his equipment, it has to be sturdy, he says.

    “SWAT teams beat the crud out of this stuff,” he says.

    Strain started Strain Security in 1996 after losing his job as an environmental-simulation tester at Los Angeles-based Litton Industries Inc., which makes parts for military aircraft.

    His first job as a security entrepreneur involved creating a mobile-surveillance system for a van used by a private investigator. The business grew from there, largely by word of mouth among private-investigation and law-enforcement circles.

    “This is a good business,” he says. “I haven’t heard of it being used improperly. It’s good to know this is helping people.”

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