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Last week in a Spring Valley business park, a tower nearly 100 feet tall sprang up seemingly overnight. It was not there on Monday, March 30, but the thin skeletal structure was noticed on Tuesday morning. It dominated the sky in the center of the block bordered by Sweetwater Springs Boulevard, Austin Drive, Calavo Drive, and Jamacha Boulevard, near the main Spring Valley post office.

At about 2:35 p.m. on Tuesday, I approached three men, dressed as though they might be engineers, who were standing in the parking lot outside NSM Surveillance on Via Orange Way. When I asked them what the tower was for, one of them responded with the joke, "We can't tell you. We'd have to kill you." They all laughed good-naturedly. I countered with, "Well, let me call my wife first, because I really want to know what it is!" More laughter. Then the tallest man gave me an answer: "Communications." I asked, "Oh, you mean like cell phones?" He replied, "Just communications, in general." I asked, "Is it for spying on people?" The tall one again replied. "No. It’s just for fun." I asked one more question: "Is it permanent?" The engineer delivered his terse answer in a friendly tone: "No."

The tower was based on a large sand-colored metal platform with wheels, which can evidently be towed as a trailer. Huge, steel spider-like square-tube stabilizers had been deployed to give the tower a wide and stable base. Guy wires stretched from the top down to the platform to keep the tower straight and immoveable. On the corner of the roof of NSM Surveillance (aka NS Microwave) stood a device mounted upon a tripod, seemingly aimed directly at the top of the tower. Though it was difficult to see clearly because of its great height, the top of the tower seemed to hold several small white dishes as well as other equipment.

By Wednesday afternoon the tower had disappeared.

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Comments

shizzyfinn April 7, 2009 @ 10:41 p.m.

I, for one, feel better that the "24-hour tower" is gone. But I wonder what the heck were they looking at with that thing? Hmmph.

In any case, nice reporting, Steve Terry. I love the slow-building tension, culminating in a sweeping and immediate resolution in the final sentence, with all of its sharply crafted directness. And the video is an enjoyable supplement.

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Ponzi April 8, 2009 @ 1:19 p.m.

They make equipment for law enforcement and other agencies... they were probably doing a field test of one of their models.

Maybe they have it on their website? http://www.nsmsurveillance.com/products/vehicles/mcu-features.htm

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EnronCEO May 11, 2009 @ 1:24 p.m.

Security stuff like this is essential for me and my cronies, sorry, business associates, to make a living.

Remember, if you have nothing to hide from authorities, then you have nothing to fear.

That's why I have my bank statements delivered on postcards rather than in a closed envelope.

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