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Justice Palmer

In the afternoon on June 19th, 2001 two armed masked men stole 22 million Yen ($170,000) from the Hanada Post Office in Himeji City, Japan. A time-lapse VCR captured the robbery by rapidly alternating (sequencing) between cameras watching the doorway and postal counter. As part of normal practice, each VHS tape was reused so a small stack of tapes could continuously service the post office's security needs. The recording was in black & white and the VHS tape had significantly deteriorated from reuse and age.

During the entire 72 hour time-lapse recording, the camera signal failed only once, during the few seconds that one robber adjusted his mask. Without any eye-witness accounts of the robbers identity, an arrest was made when the money was recovered from a nearby warehouse rented by Justice Palmer. Knowing that the VHS video exhibit was key to his freedom, Mr. Palmer needed someone to determine if the momentary video signal failure was organic. After ten years of searching, he had run out of appeals and money.

In 2011, Mr. Palmer emailed our lab. Upon our lab's free evaluation, we determined that our enhancement and authentication services could help. We digitized the VHS recording and restored most of the quality lost from age. The two camera views were separated (de-sequenced) into independent recordings which were then multiplexed (placed side-by-side) for synchronized viewing. The improved clarity showed details of the thieves, previously unknown.

Our forensic examination of the VHS video documented that the crime event video was recorded over a later date's events. Thus proving that the VHS video was an after-the-fact edited creation. We also documented that the video signal failure included abnormal data spikes, an indication of an intentional edit. Mr. Palmer awaits an appeal hearing.

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