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.

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

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Anonymous Coward says:


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.

Chi (user link) says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Well it depends...


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.

bob says:

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.

Erik Ward says:

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.

? says:

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 (
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.

Andrew Strasser (user link) says:

Re: 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.

DrScott says:

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??

Enguelber Rumbo says:

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!

Kyle says:

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! 🙂

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