Dan Gilbert’s surveillance teams messes with wrong Detroit institution

Dan Gilbert-owned Bedrock Real Estate Services removes security equipment from American Coney Island in downtown Detroit. By Steve Neavling/Motor City Muckraker
Dan Gilbert-owned Bedrock Real Estate Services removes security equipment on a building owned by American Coney Island in downtown Detroit. By Steve Neavling/Motor City Muckraker

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Update: Dan Gilbert responds, calling Motor City Muckraker a “dirty scum.”

As billionaire Dan Gilbert continues to amass an unparalleled collection of downtown Detroit’s buildings, parking lots and other prime properties, his Bedrock Real Estate Services is quietly ratcheting up what has become one of the most ambitious, state-of-the-art surveillance systems run and financed with private money. buy levaquin

Trouble is, Bedrock crews have been installing security cameras and other surveillance equipment without permission on buildings that Gilbert does not own, which Motor City Muckraker first reported in February. buy lasix

The camera and cameras  By Steve Neavling/MCM
The camera and transmitter by Bedrock Real Estate Services. By Steve Neavling/MCM

While some property owners have reluctantly let Gilbert keep the cameras on their buildings, American Coney Island was not one of them. On Friday afternoon, the owner of the 98-year-old Detroit tradition discovered a Bedrock crew had surreptitiously erected a transmitter on top of her family’s downtown building – adjacent to the American Coney Island – without permission, not far from a camera that Bedrock was operating without her knowledge.

Keros said the camera was installed by Compuware, but she never gave permission for Bedrock to use it.

Bedrock dispatched a top executive, pickup truck, golf cart and aerial lift, blocking one lane of traffic while they met with American Coney owner Grace Keros.

“You don’t fucking own me,” Keros told them. “I want this off my building.”

Bedrock Property Manager Ron Gresens was irritated and walked off, seemingly puzzled that a business owner would be upset that a Bedrock crew trespassed and then drilled holes into the historic brick facade.

When I asked why Bedrock was installing cameras without the permission of building owners, Gresens repeated, like a broken record, “I don’t know what you are talking about,” before adding, “It’s none of your business.”

So whose business is it that Bedrock is amassing a state-of-the-art surveillance system that is partially erected illegally?

No one else from Bedrock would comment.

Bedrock has installed hundreds of cameras in undisclosed locations throughout downtown Detroit, creating a vast security network that one police investigator told me covers most sidewalks, roads and alleys in downtown. Owners of non-Gilbert buildings where cameras were installed, however, have no local right to access the video, which some privacy advocates point out could be used against competitors.

The live feeds are monitored in a secretive command center in the Chase Tower, where security guards keep an eye on the video 24/7.

Gilbert also has surveillance cameras inside the newsrooms of the Detroit News and Free Press, which rent a building from Bedrock. Although the daily newspapers and other local media have been very kind to Gilbert, depicting him as a savior of Detroit, reporters and editors have privately expressed concerns with the cameras. Free Press columnist Nancy Kaffer even wrote a critical column about the secrecy surrounding Gilbert’s surveillance network.

His company refused to comment for that story as well.

Gilbert came under fire this week after the U.S. sued Quicken Loans for issuing improper mortgages that contributed to the unprecedented blight in Detroit’s neighborhoods as foreclosures left houses abandoned and open to trespass. Banks that took over the mortgages often did nothing to protect the properties they foreclosed.

The city of Detroit has not responded to our Freedom of Information Act request for all Bedrock videos that were used in police investigations. Motor City Muckraker sued the city last week for failing to turn over public records in a separate case.

An analysis of Mayor Duggan’s campaign contributions shows Dan Gilbert and his Quicken Loans associates donated more than $185,000 to support Duggan’s run for mayor. Quicken Loans was forced to return $80,000 of that because Michigan officials said the company violated a law that prohibits casino owners and operators from contributing money to state and local campaigns.

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.

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