Thieves Use GPS Tracking Apps For Crime
Smart phone apps designed for fitness applications have exploded in popularity. These mobile tracking apps do everything from helping runners determine the proper speed they should be running, golfers find out the yardage to the green, mountain bike riders find local trails and so much more. These mobile GPS apps are helpful, intuitive and many times free for download, creating a very positive user experience. Unfortunately, mobile GPS apps can also share personal GPS data that can help thieves be more efficient in stealing property, as Staffordshire Police learned after investigating over 350 cases of reported bike theft.
According to Staffordshire police investigators, an abnormal number of what would be classified as "high value" bicycles were being reported stolen. These bicycles were somewhat protected in sheds, garages and outbuildings, leading investigators to hypothesize that the thieves knew where the bikes were and specifically targeted them. After interviewing the victims the investigators discovered that they all used some form of mobile GPS app that logged routes traveled and other activity on a real-time website. This GPS tracking system data was shared online where other cyclists could access the routing and locational data. Although the platform was designed to be a positive thing, essentially a social network for cyclists, it also provided bike thieves the opportunity to pinpoint exactly where the valuable bikes were located at all times.
Although an investigator stated that the mobile GPS apps and accompanied website offer privacy settings, most users shared routes and posted locational data on other social networking websites such as Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus. Making matters worse, many of the shared routes and maps from the mobile GPS tracking apps identified with precision accuracy specific addresses, making it easy for the bike thieves to locate expensive bicycles. Many times the thieves do not even need to hack into the personal account information of users because the users simply share their personal GPS locational data with the community.
The Staffordshire Police Department have reported that over $200,000 worth of bicycle property has been reported stolen in just the last three months in 2012, showing the increased prevalence of cycle theft. Law enforcement investigators recommend that people using mobile GPS tracking apps utilize security and privacy settings as much as possible, and only share personal data with close friends or family members.
GPS Tracker Helps Police Arrest ATM Thief
When Daniel Runyan was busy breaking into establishments to rob ATM machines the last thing he was probably thinking a out was GPS tracking. Unfortunately for Runyan it was information provided via a GPS vehicle tracker that led to the criminal's downfall and why he will now spend the next four years inside of a jail cell.
In a Middlesex Superior courtroom Runyan admitted to his 2011 crimes of cracking into approximately thirty MetroWest ATM machines all throughout the state of Massachusetts. The 25-year-old man pleaded guilty after being indicted for 93 separate charges against him and a couple other accomplices. Authorities said that the men were single handedly responsible for stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the ATM machines. The police enforcement investigators also stated numerous surveillance video recordings captured a man operating a drill and wearing a mask while also communicating with an accomplice using a two-way headset microphone. This allowed police to determine rather quickly that it was the same crew involved in the crimes.
Throughout Massachusetts the three men robbed ATM machines in Concord, Ayer, Auburn, Groton, Lawrence and numerous other cities in the state. However, it was the quick thinking police department officials headquartered in Framingham that were instrumental in the apprehension of the trio. This is because Framingham police were the ones responsible of equipping a GPS tracker system upon the vehicle surveillance video showed being at the scene of one of the ATM robberies. The locational data gathered from the GPS vehicle tracker provided police the evidence needed to make an arrest. Thomas Coyne and Tim Page were the other men arrested for the ATM robberies and both men will face trial later this year for their involvement in the crimes.
Runyan, who has already pleaded guilty to his involvement in the crimes, will call a correction house home until 2017. After his four-year sentence is completed, Runyan will also be placed on probation for an additional five years.