Cops Use StingRay Phone Tracker Against $50 Chicken Wing Thief

/ 4 years ago


Police officers in Maryland, US, used a controversial mobile (cell)phone-tracking system – billed as a tool for fighting terrorism – to track a man suspected of stealing $50-worth of chicken wings. The Annapolis police department used a StingRay to determine the location of a man suspected of the theft of three sandwiches and fifteen chicken wings from a Pizza Boli employee, according to The Register.

A StingRay is an IMSI-catcher which poses as a cell tower in order to trick nearby phones into connecting to it. Following connection, the StingRay user is able to obtain a phone’s identification number, which is then used to track the device.

The use of a StingRay to pursue petty criminals seems rather excessive, especially considering the existing privacy and human rights concerns when the technology is used to prevent more serious crimes. The legislation regarding the use of StingRays in the US varies from state to state, with heavy controls in, say, California, and lax regulations in places such as New York, where the technology has been used over 1,000 times since 2008.

“It’s supposed to be used for terrorism,” Meckler, the Baltimore public defender, said of the chicken wing thief case, the Maryland Capital News Service reports. “It’s not being used for the purpose for which it’s being designed.”

“We absolutely use it to go after the worst criminals or the worst criminal offenses,” argued Montgomery County Police spokesman Capt. Paul Starks. “We use it for violent felonies and do not use it for minor crimes and property crimes.”

Image courtesy of Democrat & Chronicle.

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