Dan Gilbert’s team trespasses, installs cameras on downtown buildings without permission

Bedrock installed this camera without permission from the building's owner, Chris . Photos by Steve Neavling.
Bedrock installed this camera without permission from the building’s owner, Chris Jaszczak. Photos by Steve Neavling.

Chris Jaszczak heard the high-pitched sound of a drill grinding into the brick wall of his coffee shop and black box theater in downtown Detroit.

After peeking into the alley behind his building at 1515 Broadway, Jaszczak was shocked when he saw someone installing a surveillance camera on his brick wall.

Another camera was installed without permission at Detroit Beer Company.
Another camera was installed without permission at Detroit Beer Company.

Turns out, employees for Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock Real Estate Services were ordered to place surveillance cameras on the rear of 1515 Broadway and the Detroit Beer Company without gaining permission from the owners, who are angry about the discovery.

The cameras are among hundreds installed downtown by Bedrock in the past few years, sending live feeds to a secretive command center in Chase Tower where security guards keep an eye on the video 24/7.

“What gets me is the audacity to drill into my property without even asking,” Jaszczak said. “It’s not the cameras that bother me. It’s not having the courtesy to ask first.”

The devices are facing the alley near several buildings owned by Gilbert, including 1500 Woodward, the Madison and the Small Plates building, which sits between 1515 Broadway and the Detroit Beer Company.

Gilbert also has surveillance cameras inside the newsrooms of the Detroit News and Free Press, which rent a building from Bedrock. Reporters have privately complained.

Bedrock didn’t return requests for comment.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Butch1

    Big Brother doesn’t have to return your comments. 😉

  • drbpor

    Danny Boy needs to keep an eye on his fiefdom

  • churchchurchliquorstore1

    When will Dan be hiring his own militia to police the city?

  • churchchurchliquorstore1

    Next on ‘As Gotham Turns…’

  • Fergus

    I was thinking of visiting Downtown this summer, but thanks to online independent journalism sites and reader comments I have learned that the city core is patrolled not by police but by rent-a-cops who, under Prince of Darkness Dan’s control, refuse to interface with the real police. No doubt murder and mayhem abound but no one is reporting it.

    The Woodward spine and its near tributaries have become a dystopian, Orwellian hive, a 7-square-mile “Person of Interest” episode in which only the Dark Side gets to see any surveillance video. The local newspapers — even as they pay rent tribute to the Evil Prince — have become so chickenshit they won’t even let out a peep as his technospies check out each lede and story placement.

    Now and then the Prince lets a building go to a Chinese shell company and sends word to flood the damned things so as to take the lackey MSM dupes — and sometimes even his antagonists — off his scent.

    Even if none of this were true . . . and how is that possible? . . . I have decided that any dollar I scraped together and spent in this elitist, colonialist nosh pit would leave me not merely dyspeptic but also guilt-ridden.

    And that is what I have learned on my cyber vacation. It could, of course, be incorrect.

  • queenie1

    How did they hook into the electricity for the building to run the cameras without the knowledge of the owner?

    • Michael

      PoE.

  • Robert Atallo

    Just remove it and throw it in the trash. You don’t owe them any notice. Did they notify you? By the way, did they have a permit?

  • Adaj Parr

    Make no mistake downtown Detroit is flooded with cameras installed under the direction of Gilbert and Penske. I would like to see Steve explore the large picture and report the violation on individual privacy.

  • Adaj Parr

    Steve every once in a while you report on issues that we need to know, but would not know if you haven’t reported. How does one take you or your reporting? We love, and we dislike you. Be consistence. You get 4 out of 5 stars on this story.

  • Matt

    1 more comment… Look at it like this… HUGE changes are underway in the entire city of Detroit. Don’t think so? Look 5-7 years ago. Property values in neighborhoods are rising, businesses are opening up shop all over, and yes, outside of downtown. With all the change going on (especially the large amount in a small amount of time in downtown), you think mistakes can’t get made? Like Gilbert did not specifically say ‘I want the camera on this specific building and I do not care if it is not mine’… take a chill pill people. No wonder this dude is the one investing in the city and you aren’t.

    • bebow

      Property values in most neighborhoods aren’t rising. I’ll invite you to mine, and you’ll immediately understand why that’s so.

      • Michael

        But you can’t deny that they are rising in others. It took Detroit decades to get to this point and it may take decades to come back. So when you pander on about how your property values haven’t risen yet, no one is really listening, because no one really cares. Why is that? Because they believe the city- the entire city – is coming back, and they understand that it will just take time.

        Are there problems that need to be addressed that the recent flurry of investments are not going to fix? Yes. Overall, are there less problems for the city than there were 5-10 years ago? Yes.

        • bebow

          Everyone knows what New Detroit – all 5,000 of you – thinks. Are you getting paid for your comments?

  • Matt

    I am amazed at the hate towards Gilbert. This is Detroit… We have had plenty of corruption, and endless amounts of reasons as to why this city hit rock bottom. So a dude is investing BILLIONS of his own money to downtown and the neighborhoods (yes, neighborhoods. Look up the info before you complain all his money is in downtown/midtown). He has this awesome command center set up where the DPD and Bedrock Security have 24/7 access to. His security strolls downtown, letting the DPD focus more heavily on the actual crime ridden areas of Detroit. I 100% agree and understand that it is not right to put cameras on a someone elses building without their knowledge, but good effing Christ people, you all are treating this as a ‘This is the last straw with Gilbert, he has to go!’ …’Only in Detroit do we demand answers and complain when someone tries to make it safer’…

    • Michael

      Thank you for your even keeled and level headed response.

  • Michael

    Has anyone given thought to the idea that this was a mistake on the part of a 3rd party contractor? Seems everyone thinks Dan Gilbert was personally monitoring the installation. LOL

    • Fergus

      Given the asininity of poling someone else’s building, this would have been my first guess. MERELY a first guess. But it’s Detroit, so if nefariousness can be construed, it will be construed.

  • Frank

    Noticed that excat camera over the weekend. Within 15 minutes of making Eye contact with said camera, we were approached by armed secruity. The guy i was with had a camera and we were taking a picture of the Metorpolitan building from the adjacent parking lot in the back.

  • Fergus

    <>

    What does that mean? They are afraid to complain publicly? If so, why?

    • javierjuanmanuel

      Ad buys. Who buys the most airtime in detroit, art van is first, rock has to be top ten. Even if its not that high as I suspect anymore, I am sure he and his higher ups are tight with danny and his boys from the 2000-2008 era, and spent many a night partying, and at events, games etc together. I think in those years he might have spent more than art van.

      If his wife drunk drove and killed someone it would make the news. Little stuff does not make the news if you spend tens of millions advertising it just is deemed not important enough, as long as they can fill the time with something else, like some middle class guy or a lowly car dealer worth 30 million bucks being a dick, there is no reason to kick a billionaire in the shins for being a dick. He gets a pass for being a billionaire, and then for the media ad buys. Where as matty mouran does not sell consumer goods, no one kisses his ass. If he did the same amount of business, but owned some company that spent top 7 in ad buys, petty stuff would not even be mentioned.

      • Fergus

        My question was about cameras at the News and Free Press.

  • nettiewash

    property damage
    this would be like going to a neighbor’s property without permission and installing anything (it does not matter what it is the fact that it is not his property and even if it were GILBERT’S property there IS THE MATTER OF CITY CODES THAT NEED TO BE FOLLOWED AND that are enforceable. SOME HERE HAVE SAID IT IS PETTY BUT THEY DO NOT UNDERSTAND IF THE PERSON WHO HAS TITLE TO THE PROPERTY (TITEL IS CORRECT not ownership that is arueable) DOES NOTHING THEN IN ESSENCE AFTER A PERIOD OF TIME THEY HAVE GIVEN “A RIGHT OF WAY PERMISSION” TO DO THIS AND CONTINUE THIS. THIS IS OLD ENGLISH LAW USED IN COURTS TO ARGUE THIS RIGHT.
    LAW SUIT LAW SUIT RIGHT NOW MAKE A POLICE REPORT THIS ARTICLE IS NOW A PRIMARY SOURCE IN THIS POTENTIAL CRIMINAL CHARGE. NOW ANYONE CAN DO PROPERTY DAMAGE TO ANY BUILDING IN THE CITY IF THEY ARE A BILLIONAIRE OR MILLIONAIRE? A PANDORA’S BOX IF YOU ASK ME. THIS NEEDS TO BE NIPPED IN THE BUD!

  • Harry Palmer

    Would Gilbert allow some other business to attach, drill, or slap something onto one of his buildings w/o Bedrock’s permission? I’m sure he personally knows better, this was most likely done further down the chain, but it speaks to Bedrock’s staff corporate mentality. They may see themselves now as being above having to ask permission before they trample on someone else’s property.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      The company culture is built around or patterned after danny boy.

      I think the idea must be his, or he signed off on cameras, and lots of them, and signed a check for 100k worth of gear or more. Its possible it was an accident, or mistake, that will be easy to figure out if they are gone in a few days, he says sorry, and patches the walls.

      If they are there in a month, dan did it, likes it, and thinks he literally owns down town.

  • Black Junior

    The takeover is real…..

  • Ronald Diebel

    I am sure it was an innocent oversight.

    • shavers313

      Looks like it to me.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      I cannot tell with regards to dan if people are joking or not?

      If its an accident they will be off in a few days, and danny will open his wallet and patch the walls and say sorry.

      Probably not innocent, he knows what he owns, he runs a tight ship, I wonder if his crews accidently clean parking lots they do not own, or stripe them, or paint walls on accident, or fix a retaining wall, or patch or pave a rough parking lot he does not own on accident.

      My guess is no.

      • Michael

        So clueless it’s pathetic. Your lack of understanding of how businesses operate is also shocking. We are talking about a contractor who installed something incorrectly, not a billionaire who is trying to break the law at every turn. Your opinion makes for great sensationalism, but unfortunately stop shorts of being factual.

        • bebow

          Everyone is clueless except you, Michael.

  • bebow

    The cameras in the newsrooms has my full attention. Is there some concern the reporters may commit crimes on the job? Is audio involved, too?

    • Michael

      Stop starting trouble. The most likely scenario here is that the news rooms are near badge access doors and may lead to a common area of the building. If the free press management decided the room adjacent to the access doors should be a news room, then that’s their fault.

      • bebow

        I’ll say whatever I choose, and you can save the dictating for your colonial audience.

  • NL9

    Yes, I would definitely be pissed about surveilance that makes my customers feel more safe that I didn’t have to pay for. SMH. People are so dramatic. I would be willing to bet that if anything happened outside of these establishments that they would be thankful for the cameras then. Why didn’t these places invest in this sooner? Do they care about patron safety?

    • FairMeat

      Surveillance makes you feel more safe? It has the opposite effect for me.

      • NL9

        Perhaps you have something to hide then.

        • banmar

          Or perhaps they just like their privacy and would like to see an announcement that an area is under surveillance, just to know.

        • FrankRizzoRubbaneck

          Now say it in russian

    • banmar

      The fact that these cameras can be used to improve the safety of the buildings’ owners, renters, businesses, employees and the businesses’ patrons is a moot point if the cameras’ operators have not received permission to install them on buildings from the buildings’ owners. I guess my first question is whether some kind of fine print within any legislation was passed with “emergency” permission allowing Bedrock to install the cameras due to a civil crisis — mainly, the high crime rate — without the permission or knowledge of the property owners. Perhaps there is an attorney who reads MCM or has a great interest in the resurgence of Detroit that might assist pro bono?

      If this is not so and Bedrock is overreaching, perhaps several businesses upon whose buildings these items were installed without permission consult an attorney (or, once again, if a pro bono attorney steps up) to band together for a class-action suit and also request a copy of what their cameras record 24/7 or the right to request and expeditiously receive surveillance video results ASAP is another option, too.

      • javierjuanmanuel

        That could not happen on a building dan never owned. If dan sold a building, with cameras on it tha the owned and operated you might make it a condition of the sale that he gets to leave a pole with a camera in your lot. There is no way he can just go around doing this, he is not a utility, this is not a right of way or easement..

        No need for a lawyer, just go out there, cut the jacketing or tube with a bolt cutter, call a mason ask for a estimate, and send danny boy the bill. When he does notpay it in 2 months send it to collections, or put a lein on his property.

        Dan is a businesman, he would not give away anything that is not by his choice, if he wants a camera there for HIM, then it has value to the business owner, he can rent the wall for $250 per month per camera. Seems high, but it is high value to Dan he is rich. If Chrysler wanted to buy your farm to make a plant you would not sell for the same price it would sell to another farmer. This has value, he is one of the richest guys in the world.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      Well I am not so sure bedrock would share the video, unless it aided bedrock. Make no mistake, this is for bedrock, not the area. Also you can be sure if it is something that captures a bedrock, rock financial, fathead employee doing something like trafficing drugs, buying a whore, vandalism, starting a dumpster fire, a hit and run, a hate crime etc. Guess what. You are NOT getting a video, it will NOT be on the news, rock will not look bad, and the news will not even talk to you. They buy to much time on tv, even if you own the building you are not a billionaire, and you could suffer at the hands of a rock employee, have a rock camera on your building illegally and get nothing from it.

      You will just get upset and jaded.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      Its not security for you unless you own the tapes and have unfettered access to them. Its for rock employees not for the public.

      Lets put it this way, if at lunch you get in a fight with a rock employee who drank to much at lunch, if it aids the rock employee the tape makes it to the police. If it hurts the rock employee the tape does not make it to the police. Its so rock employees do not feel powerless if they are jacked, or car is vandalized etc.

      Rock is not putting in hours of time to help you, if your GPS/RADIO, air bags etc get stolen.

      They might not even tell you no, they will make you think they want to help, have you wait around, call people who may not even exist, if they exist they do not return calls, and they sure as hell are not putting in hours of work to get you evidence for something.

      • NL9

        And with this opinion you clearly have no idea of the crime and things that Dan and Rock have assisted with fixing since installing these cameras. You can work at QL/Rock or not, if you do wrong you’ll be caught and you’ll pay the price. At the end of the day I’m proud to work for someone who truly cares about the city, the safety of others, and the reputation of Detroit. Believe what you want.

        • banmar

          Do you get paid by the word for these postings?

        • javierjuanmanuel

          Yes I do have an idea of the crime, did I not mention I know cops who work the beat down there, on game days if there are two games, about 200-400 smash and grabs occur. Every time, all the time, for the last 15 years.

          Why did you not share, dan spens company time, at his billing rate, having his people, act as camera detectives, sorting thousands of hours of film, editing, writing reports etc.

          Cool, maybe post some of these, you make it sound like he is running a free service to help anyone and everyone. You sound like a real turd.

          I will be caught? Not if you standin the shaddows with a mask or a hodie on.

          Not if its something petty, he is NOT firing a top sales guy who makes him millions for buying a bag of weed, sorry he is not. He is not even firing a web designer for lighting a dumpster fire if thats all he does.

          These cameras are to protect his interests, make his employees feel good that they are protected or have recourse.

          I am not saying cameras are useless or bad, you seem to think the guy who puts them up makes them magic and benevolent !

    • Michelle Kirkwood

      The point is, the building were not asked or even told about these cameras—-that is the point. What part of that do you not get? Apparently nothing.

      • NL9

        Go home, Michelle. You’re drunk.

  • FairMeat

    Degenerates, I believe is the term for defacing someone else’s property if I recall correctly.

  • John T. Feret

    If I was one of these business owners I would be submitting a bill to Bedrock with monthly installments for the leasing of my space, informing them that if there was no response within 30 days the device would be removed and they would be receiving a bill for the removal and repair of the property.

    Also… why?

    • falseprophet

      Why you ask? Just like England, so they can film you getting assaulted, robbed or shot and not be able to make out the suspect. The is because criminal saw the camera days before and made a point to wear a hoodie while committing the crimes.

    • Butch1

      Excellent way to respond to a bully who doesn’t even have the courtesy to even let you know or ask permission.

  • javierjuanmanuel

    The cameras existance would not bother me, but I would want access to them, unaltered when ever I want. I do not mean filling out a million forms either, I mean a phone call, and 20 minutes latter someone calls me back, and the end of the day I can have a video sent to my email.

    Then there is the matter of the way they installed it, they did not have to drill into the bricks, they should have drilled into the mortar which is easily patched to match should these units be removed, which they will be in ten years when they are wildly out dated. Now the owner has to pay a mason to come and try to find matching bricks, grind out a bunch of bricks, set new bricks, clean them, etc. Acid wash them. Few things are as garish as mismatched bricks or mortar done on the cheap by hacks.

    Instead of just patching a drill hole in the mortar. Nice install turds!

    • DetroitArtSEEN

      Maybe they could have just put mollys into one of the 80 holes already in the bricks. Unless they were “swiss” bricks…