Forget Bait Money, Just Toss A GPS Device In The Bank Robber's Bag

from the you've-been-tracked dept

By this point, bank robbers have learned about dye-packs and bait bills, but now they might need to get up to speed on how GPS works. Apparently a bank robber in Spokane, Washington was caught after bank employees tossed some sort of GPS device into the bank robber's duffel bag which allowed the police to track them down quickly. Of course, what's a little odd is that another version of the story seems to indicate that the bank robber only assumed that's how he was caught. The court documents, according to that article read: "Fricks assumed that he had been caught as the result of some type of GPS tracking device, which he assumed had been placed with the money." All of the other stories seem to indicate that is exactly what happened, but it's a little odd to see the court focusing in on how the robber assumed he was caught, rather than how he was really caught. Still, the bank robber in question was impressed by the cops' ability to track him down so fast: "You guys are good!" is what he apparently told the police as they arrested him.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2006 @ 6:58pm

    rofl

    I've got a GPS receiver and that shit won't work if I go behind a curtain, can this really be that big of a deal for bank robbers?

    Just toss the money in a lead box and be done with it. Then open the loot inside a nice thick concrete building and smash the transmitter.

    This will maybe work a few more times before bank robbers catch on.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Chi, Jan 6th, 2006 @ 9:02pm

    Well it depends...

    GPS receivers have varying degrees of usefulness. On the low end models, one can simply cover the receiver antenna (or simply flip it upside down) and the unit becomes non-functional. Higher end models have better antennas which make it more effective in acquiring signal.
    Which leads me to the next point, GPS receivers only receive signals broadcasted by the GPS satellites. They don't actually emit any signals of their own thus, Joe Smith can use a GPS receiver and the Man can't track him down.
    Now with a GPS tracker (something that broadcasts it's location after receiving GPS satellite data) is different in another level. Due to the fact that the unit itself is broadcasting something. At least, that's my understanding of it. That's why security devices like LoJack actually work.
    The real question is whether they've gotten GPS trackers small yet powerful enough to be detected with out the need for extensive "listening towers" (or receiving towers).
    Now granted a RF tracker could probably be used with great effeciency as two (possibly three) towers used to narrow the search area. I vaguely recall a website that actually looked into stuff like this. Except I believe they were using cellphones. Unfortunately (or fortunately) that website has been down for quite some time.
    Apparently their project on creating a focused EMP generator sparked some security concerns in a post 9/11 world.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Erik Ward, Jan 6th, 2006 @ 9:48pm

    I don't know why this is so unbelievable...

    I don't know why this is so unbelievable, cell phones have been designed to be tracked for a long time now, and many of them are very light and portable. Taking into consideration that one could make it even smaller since you would not need all the cell phone features, you can get a really small device to track someone using the existing cell phone network / technology.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Chris Maresca, Jan 7th, 2006 @ 12:05am

    No Subject Given

    GPS module (size of a quarter)
    http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=279
    GSM module with builtin Python interpreter (as small)
    http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=162

    $12 of offshore coding...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    ?, Jan 7th, 2006 @ 2:39am

    Re: I don't know why this is so unbelievable...

    I think it is the transmitter, battery, and antenna that are so important, and are much bigger and consume WAY more power than the GPS receiver does. The post a few above sheds light on how this stuff might work, and I have to agree with him.

    Of course, GPS tracking isn't new (http://techdirt.com/articles/20051003/1554230_F.shtml)
    Trucking companies that I'm famillar with use it very frequently, and some even have live time access to all kinds of driver information, including current speed (and speed history), amount of time on the road since last break, and other features.

    One trucking firm actually has the ability to shut a driver's truck down if they detect that he has been speeing, or has been on the road for too long.

    Now these aren't just GPS system, they are hibreding with some other kind of network, and I would have to suggest that cellular, while nifty, is a bit limited for this kind of use. There are all kinds of wireless networks that would be better suited, and probably cheaper, for this kind of work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Andrew Strasser, Jan 7th, 2006 @ 3:14pm

    Re: I don't know why this is so unbelievable...

    Have you ever been to a 7-11. Ask to buy their 2 dollar bill I bet they won't sell it to you. Why is that you say. Well of course when you steal the less than 50 bucks the guy has you get a 2 dollar bill with a tracking device you'll probably even be dumb enough to save as a momento. So mind you 7-11 2 dollar bills. Probably not your best friend.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Andrew Strasser, Jan 7th, 2006 @ 3:22pm

    Here have a dollar...

    In fact no brother man here have two...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    bob, Jan 7th, 2006 @ 4:53pm

    Re: rofl


    GPS receivers won't work if they can't see satellites, and they need a straight path to the satellites because the time between the sending and the reception of the signal is critical. It's more likely that they just put a simple radio transmitter in the bag and followed the robber by triangulation. Cops have been doing this sort of thing for 50 years or more.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Andrew Strasser, Jan 8th, 2006 @ 1:02am

    Re: rofl

    However if you've studied what I've said about satellites you'd know that that triangulation system has been very well overhauled using satellites rather than pinging you with yer cb on some dirt road.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    DrScott, Jan 8th, 2006 @ 6:25am

    Rob Our Bank and Get a Free GPS Phone!

    The reason why the bank robber suspected that he was tracked by GPS technology is that the bank was offering a new incentive to open up an account. They were giving out new GPS phones. Since the bank robber stopped in that day to make a very large withdrawal the happy bank teller gave him one of the promotional phones as a parting gift. Just before the police busted down his door, it is reported that the police overheard him saying… “Can you arrest me now?”

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Andrew Strasser, Jan 8th, 2006 @ 10:17am

    Re: Rob Our Bank and Get a Free GPS Phone!

    Now that is the epitome of forgetting to screw your head on right in crisis.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Erik Ward, Jan 8th, 2006 @ 10:40am

    Apparently it is true ... he was tracked!

    Here is the whole story ... apparently it is true ... he was tracked:

    http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2006/jan/1266865.htm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2006 @ 11:41am

    No Subject Given

    RFID ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    steve, Jan 8th, 2006 @ 12:56pm

    No No what you do is...

    What you do now is tell the bank teller that if ANYTHING goes wrong with the robbery, that your holding her Mom, Dad and her children personally responsible.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2006 @ 1:03pm

    Re: Well it depends...

    Well,

    Telephones currently have GPS devices in them, so something as small as that can receive/transmit the data to cell towers. I think the output of a cell is like .5 watts of power so it wouldnt take much.

    With a decent battery the signal could be amplified at the cost of batter life. Then again, how long do you need it to last?

    The issue like Chi was stating is receiving the signal.

    Put into any kind of bag would block the signals, and GPS's need at least 3 signals anyway. The more locked on the better.

    So, like he said, the biggest would be receiving the signal, not transmitting. Everyone knows mobile phones work in most but the most densly enclosed areas.

    Anyway, just my nickel.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 9th, 2006 @ 12:29am

    No Subject Given

    lol
    "Man you guys are good!"
    "Yeah, tell it to the judge"
    ;P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Brewski, Jan 9th, 2006 @ 7:32am

    Re: RFID

    Very very unlikely it was any sort of RFID chip. The range on those things (at the current level of technology) is measured in feet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Inky, Jan 9th, 2006 @ 12:13pm

    Re: RFID

    This isn't the first time a bank has used a mystery GPS device to catch a criminal. Last month, a Cincinnati bank robber was caught the same way.

    http://www.channelcincinnati.com/health/5586187/detail.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Andrew Strasser, Jan 11th, 2006 @ 7:15pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    I'd still like to reiterate $2 bill 7-11 ask really.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Oct 5th, 2006 @ 1:23pm

    Re: rofl

    THAT HAS TO BE THE BEST ANSWER YET. ROTFLOL

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Regnad Kcin, Dec 8th, 2006 @ 4:35pm

    California Rules

    Robber: "I wuz tricked with intrusive technology!"

    Jury: "Poor oppressed robber. Not guilty!"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Enguelber Rumbo, Jun 20th, 2008 @ 10:31pm

    I have a question regarding "Bait Money" ,

    I'm a District Manager for a Financial institution in Northern California. One of my branches recently got robbed by an employee. When her house was searched by the authorities, some money was found, out of which a couple of "Bait Bills" were also included in such money. She claims that the reason those bills were tracked as our institution's money is because she cashed all her pay check at our branches (which is true) and kept all her pay in cash inside her house. Our company gest money delivered by Bank of America through a Security Company on a daily basis and redeposit by us are made as well every day to this company.

    So My question is: Now that it has been proven that she did in fact cash all her check at our branches, how likely is it for me to proove that the money found in her house is infact from the money we suspect she robbed and not the money she obtained when cashing her checks?

    Best regards!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Mark, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:17am

    Re:

    Bait bills are only given out when being held up and are never distributed when cashing checks or exchanging bill with a customer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Mark, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:19am

    Re: Re:

    Be sure to review/revise your Teller Procedures.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Ha HA, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 6:21pm

    throw he loot in the micro and hit start! instant fried lectronics

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Kyle, Jan 29th, 2012 @ 4:08pm

    Insightful comments!

    I like the insightful comments discussing the Gee Pee S technology instead of focusing on hate against the robber with a bunch of racist/trash talk.

    Then again I just realized the story doesn't mention the race of this robber so I bet if the suspect was known to be colored this type of conversation would not be happening in the slightest.

    It saddens me as soon as race is mentioned all meaningful conversation is lost in the muddy water as people sling mud.



    It also saddens me that I can only attract needy/insecure people as if I am sending out a signal that says: "Needy people come on here!" if I am in in a social environment but I've found out the best way to fight it is not be in a social environment.

    No try no fail! :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Kyle, Jan 29th, 2012 @ 4:09pm

    Insightful comments!

    I forgot that I am unable to receive emails because Dad had to redo my computer and doesn't know a thing about windows 7 so I cannot send/receive anything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This