Thursday, October 07, 2010

Tell me how this happens...

In California, a guy stole an always-on radio transceiver with a built in GPS locator and somehow managed to elude the cops. Have the detectives thought about asking Verizon where he's at?

Talk about being torn: I mean, I think the thief should receive an appropriate punishment, like getting beaten senseless with a sock full of marbles, but at the same time it's nice to see that spooky Big Brother tech isn't instant and infallible.


(H/T to Unc.)

18 comments:

Stretch said...

The thief is not stupid. He probably pulled the battery as soon as he could. Once a new SIM (or what ever 'droids use) is in place batter goes back in and off to the local pawn shop/Starbucks.

Craig S. Miller said...

Talking to some local L.E.O. the technology is instant, but the amount of hoops you have to go through to use it is incredible (as it should be in most instances) There are several steps to get the warrants to use it, and Cell phone companies want all i's dotted and t's crossed before they will. In the future, who knows?

Montie said...

Craig is right. It's not like on TV where the cops just pull up some map on a computer and have a flashing red dot showing them where the cell is to track down the perp.

Unless it involves a homicide or kidnapping or similar life threatening circumstance it can be a long drawn out affair. The last time I needed info on a cell phone was in a case about theft of state property. The request had to go through the Attorney General's Office and be approved by a standing Grand Jury.

Not that all that's a bad thing. I'm perfectly willing to jump through hoops as long as it keeps big government at bay in our personal lives.

nbc said...

The report is very specific on the colour of his earrings, so how can they be so vague about his shirt?

Ferret said...

I don't see why it should have been so difficult to track. It's a phone running Google's Android operating system.

(Said in a conspiratorial whisper)
"I'm sure Google has a record of where that phone has been."

The question is, would it be easier to locate by filing mountains of paperwork with the cell carrier or simply buying the location history from Google?

Anonymous said...

Cops are probably still on hold with Verizon customer service.

Ulises from CA

Crucis said...

The tech may be there but the intelligence (by the cops) to use it isn't. There was an incident near here where a cop turned off his issue cell phone so he could use the radio. He missed several alerts and drove into a gas station where shots between some armed robbers and the local SWAT team was occurring. Got his cop car shot up. Later he said he couldn't figure out how to use the cell phone so he used the radio instead. Trouble was---the department had switched from the radio to secure cell phones, text msgs and audio alerts almost a year earlier. The radios were only retained for interagency/mutual assistance use.

bluesun said...

I guess the inefficiency of bureaucracy isn't usually taken into account for all of the scary distopia stories...

Anonymous said...

Like, er, wrap in Alumnium foil or whatever your portable faraday cage of choice is, eh?

Boris da Bastid said...

The tracking isn't all that good. I leave my droid's GPS on all the time, and five hours *after* I left a bar, my wife's droid was showing me as still being there. Didn't update until I opened google maps again.

Anonymous said...

The police probably did stop him. Then he pulled that old 'this is not the droid you are looking for' trick and just drove away.

Bubblehead Les. said...

How much is a Droid Phone, and how much did this police chase cost the taxpayers?

Will said...

Les,
how much does it cost per hour to fly a helicopter (probably a Hughes 500 type)? Sheriffs chopper was "in the area", so they assisted. Plus, a bunch of cops beating the bushes for a while. All this for a Droid and a bicycle. No force or weapon used. Guy asked to borrow the phone, and rode off with it. The bike "might" be the one stolen from the back of a truck nearby.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure I'm missing something obvious, but can't you turn off the GPS on a Droid?

Laughingdog said...

"where he's at?"

Wow. You are one of the last bloggers I would have expected to see do this. Have you been watching too many of those "Where you at." cell phone commercials?

Tam said...

Laughingdog,

I do use the vernacular.

Also, there are some grammatical strictures up with which I will not put. ;)

Awelowynt said...

I'm imagining a scenario where an officer actually stopped the guy, but let him go.

How could this come to pass?

A simple wave of the hand while saying, "It's not the droid you're looking for."

Move along.

Chance said...

Well, if it's a Verizon phone, the guy won't be able to use it. All Verizon phones have a unique ESN (electronic serial number). Once it's been reported stolen to VZW only the person whose account it was on can use it. That's one of the reasons if you buy a used VZW phone you should call their customer care before actually purchasing it.
GPS can be turned off for most things, but phones have to be e911 enabled. Even if you shut it off in any settings, I'm fairly certain LEO can activate it.
The original Droid, by Motorola, were $199.99 with a two year contract, $569.99 at retail. How much they actually *cost* is anyone's guess.
The funny thing is I just recently saw that there is a free program you can use to locate your lost Android phone: https://www.mobiledefense.com/