In the months following his attack, his car was ransacked—twice. In all three cases, the criminals got away.
These experiences led Pahlevani and his brother Eman to found CrimePush, a D.C.-based start-up developing security-related smartphone apps.
CrimePush’s eponymous free app allows the user to log one’s location, report incidents to the police department with attached audio, video and photographic evidence, or send a distress message to emergency contacts. It also includes a flashlight function and a modified Google Map, highlighting places where help might be available like gas stations and hospitals.
“Our job is to make the job of the police easier,” Pahlevani said.
CrimePush already has been downloaded more than 100,000 times, and the company has partnered with 56 police departments and 10 universities nationwide. For a monthly licensing fee, these clients can “white-label” the CrimePush app, releasing it under a new name and customizing it to fit the needs of their population, who can still use it for free. For example, Dartmouth College recently released the app under the name “DartReport”, which allows users to report “hazing,” among other crimes, to campus police. The university can also send campus-wide text notifications through the app.
Even if smartphone owners are unaffiliated with these institutions, they can download the original CrimePush app. Incident reports will be sent to the appropriate police department based on the user’s location.
Licensing fees vary depending on population size. Universities with more than 25,000 students, for example, pay $2,000 a month — those with a smaller enrollment pay $1,000. Compared to the cost of installing blue-light emergency phone stations on campuses, which can be more than $200,000, CrimePush represents a cheaper option, Pahlevani said.
Though the company was only founded in February of this year, and the app’s beta launch was in July, CrimePush is already profitable. The company declined to say how much money it is making, but it projected its revenue would reach $310,000 in 2012, according to Pahlevani.
The company’s largest expense these days is development, much of which is outsourced to Costa Rica (Indian developers didn’t share CrimePush’s time zone, Pahlevani said). CrimePush’s six-person team works largely out of a converted garage in upper Chevy Chase.
In at least two instances, evidence gathered through CrimePush has been used in court.
“We busted a meth lab in Alabama,” Pahelvani said. More locally, he explained, a user collected evidence of a fugitive living in a tire store in Dale City, Va. Convictions were made in both cases.
In addition to violent crime and theft reports, a significant chunk of crimes reported are related to drug trafficking and gangs — in areas with high gang activity, it’s common for CrimePush users to report people with certain gang-related tattoos.