12/9/2020

dog with brim hat
3 min readDec 9, 2020

There wasn’t a damn thing less I’d want handed to me while breaking into a high school than a Benner Nawman screwdriver. Being offered one of these meant we’d set off some sort of proximity alarm and I was in charge of making sure it didn’t alert whatever police department was nearby.

From the ceiling of the gym massive flood lights turned on. Alternating sirens began bursting and echoing off the empty hallways and classrooms. This was the second time we’d set off an alarm this week.

We had about two minutes before the system the school used would reach out to the police via e911. It was now or never to figure this out, and I wasn’t keen on figuring out how much longer it would take to exit the window we’d just practically fell through staring down at us from nearly seven feet in the air.

I reached toward Gil and took the screwdriver from his hands. We stepped quickly across the gym floor as fast as we could and ran towards a small white computer attached to the huge wall in front of us. On it was an LCD screen that displayed a very clear message:

NR WNDW INTR ALARM. ENTER CODE TO CANCEL. (74) SECONDS LEFT.

“Probably a minute left. Shit!” Gil yelled as he paced around me. I grabbed his shoulder and stopped him so I could grab a small flashlight from his backpack. My hands were full so I stuck it between my teeth and crouched down to begin working on figuring out a way to get the system to stop blaring at us.

I took a closer look at the device. MCV770! I smiled and the flashlight pointed downwards a little bit. I’d read guidebooks for these systems online, but hadn’t ever tested them before. There were supposed to be three screws underneath: check. I removed them all and flipped up the device, revealing a few wires and plastic cords.

If the booklet was right, all I had to do was pull the power cord, disconnect the communications wire, reconnect the communications wire to an alternate port, then re-plug the power cord. If the system detected it lost power, it would check it again in 10 seconds and the alternate port would send an OK signal establishing a new connection without any real data.

I went ahead and changed everything out. The system blared loudly on reboot, resumed the countdown, then suddenly stopped. No more alarms. We were clear!

I stepped back and smiled at Gil.

“That’s the first time I got one of these!” I said.

“And I hope it’s the last.” Gil said as he turned his back towards me so I could place the tools in his bag.

“Maybe. You don’t enjoy this stuff, do you?” I asked.

“I’m betting I’ll enjoy it once we finally build this thing. Right now we’ve just broken into a school.” he said.

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