When Stealing Gadgets, You Might Want To Avoid GPS Tracking Systems

from the just-a-suggestion dept

While we’re still not sold on the value of GPS tracking systems, one thing they apparently are good for is catching thieves who steal them. Yes, three men were just arrested for stealing a bunch of GPS tracking systems out of some trucks. Apparently, the thieves believed the devices were actually mobile phones. The company turned on the GPS tracking systems, located a few of them, and alerted the police, who followed the trail right to one of the crook’s home. No one ever said criminals were smart.

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Comments on “When Stealing Gadgets, You Might Want To Avoid GPS Tracking Systems”

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misanthropic humanist says:

bad news for theives

Yeah, this is bit old Mike, but still very funny.

For good or bad tracking systems are everywhere now. For bad, you have no privacy of movement. For good, nothing can really be stolen anymore. In theory.

A yacht builder from France I know told me that every fiberglass hull built since the mid 1990s has transponders hidden inside the epoxy.

Car tires have RFID chips embedded in them

Every mobile phone can be tracked.

Laptops can be coded up to phone home if they are stolen, and even switch on the webcam to snap a picture of the “new owner”

Pretty soon theives will think twice about taking anything that is big enough to contain a 2 x 2 cm chip.

Joel Coehoorn says:

I wonder how cheap and how small a consumer gps device that only reports it’s location to a service could be. No screen, no buttons, very low power draw, and very easy to conceal.

If you could sell the devices for, say $30 each and $10 or $15 per ‘incident’ for the service to look it up I bet you could get people lining up in droves to buy them as theft-protection devices. Your car gets stolen? Just check the location of your hidden GPS device. Sell a purse or wallet with the tracker sown into the lining. Build one into a pcmcia card for laptops.

Privacy would be a concern, but the company could have a policy of only releasing device locations to the registered owners or under a court order/search warrant.

misanthropic humanist says:

Re: Also....

so who cares about privacy?

Contractors working for more than one company.
Lawyers working on confidential cases.
Private investigators.
Sick people visiting an STD clinic, psychiatrist etc.
Women seeking abortions.
Vulnerable people at risk of retaliatory crimes, eg ex-sevicemen
Businessmen with trade secrets or suppliers to legitimately conceal.
Journalists with sources to protect.

… I could go on, but the very fact you ask the question shows you are probably devoid of the empathic reasoning required to understand the positions of these people and their legitimate right to privacy in their business and activities.

The infamous Joe says:

Re: Re: Also....

I’m not sure where the topic of privacy was intoroduced, but I think that it’s safe to say that traditional privacy is a thing of the past. Anyone who carries a cell phone is giving away their location– so complaining about RFID tags in tires is a moot point.

The more interconnected we become, the less ability we have to stay isolated. (aka private) I think it’s less of a matter of staying off the radar and more of staying under the radar.

It’s the way things work– if you build a window to look out at the world, you run the chance of the world looking in at you.

misanthropic humanist says:

Re: Re: Re: Also....

I’m not sure where the topic of privacy was intoroduced

I mentioned that there was a tradeoff between the benefits of using tracking devices to eliminate theft and the attendant disadvantages of reduced privacy.

but I think that it’s safe to say that traditional privacy is a thing of the past.

Technology has certainly changed the landscape of privacy and our expectations of it, but I think to call it “a thing of the past” is a wrong. Of course that depends on what you mean by “traditional”, I expect we largely agree.

The more interconnected we become, the less ability we have to stay isolated.

That’s the funny thing you see. We aren’t becoming more interconnected, we are becoming more insular, as people. We are becoming connected to (through) something though. It’s important to ask the question, what is this thing to which we are connected, how does it benefit it us, in all ways?

if you build a window to look out at the world, you run the chance of the world looking in at you.

That’s a very good way to put it Joe. Openness v isolation is a symmetrical relationship for the mostpart.

However, a pervert cutting a peephole in the changing room door is not a symmetrical relationship. By that I mean, people should be informed, for the benefits of all, when a technology compromises a privacy they may assume they have.

For example Acer, the laptop manufacturer, installed what amounts to a back door on machines they sold. To them it was probably nothing malicious, just a way of easing their technical support. But because they *chose* (and this is very important) not to tell their customers that the backdoor was there (and how to disable it) the security breach they created was incalculable. They, or some of their business customers could be open to multi-million dollar lawsuits.

xxl3w says:

Add to that.

I didn’t know a woman would want to take a cell phone/laptop in with her when she gets an abortion. Just because you’re at an abortion clinic wouldn’t mean you were getting one. Your sister might. “Sick people with STDS” So GPS now detects diseases too? PIs. PIs should be illegal anyone. All they do is spy on people. WHAT do they know about PRIVACY anyways? contractors…. bleh, i guess i can let that slide. “Businessmen with trade secrets” GPS can record what you say now and relay it to someone else? interesting. “Journalist with sources to protect”. I’m just not understanding that. How would talking to someone reveal your identity?

Xiera says:

Re: Add to that.

I think what they were getting at is that *if* someone abuses the system, it is possible to track, stalk, etc. anyone by sitting and watching a computer screen. It’s a bit upsetting at first, but when it comes down to it, most of the people being tracked would have a reason for being tracked (crime, etc.). If you’re not doing anything wrong, there would be very little chance that you’d be tracked. Obviously, if the government wanted to implement something like this, there would need to be -very- strict guidelines that protect innocent people (ie, needing a court order to use the technology). If this were the case, the only problem I can find is if the tracking technology falls into the wrong hands or if people catch on and switch the GPS devices or if the tracking system is hacked into by a mischievous individual.

Anyways, that’s all besides the point: if you’re going to steal something that could possibly be tracked… wait, let’s just stop here and laugh some more.

Turnmom023 says:

Lighten up!!!

I don’t understand you people! The original gist of this was to LAUGH at STUPID CRIMINALS! Lighten up! Get over the privacy thing! It was just meant to be FUNNY!!! However, I have truely enjoyed some of your comments! The hippie thing was outrageous! Even my college-age son found that one to be amusing. Smile, it’s just life.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

There Are Such Small, Cheap Devices

Joel Coelhoorn,

FYI, there are compaies working on making this kind of cheap locator for integrating into assets in case they are lost or stolen. A colleague of mine works for a company called S5.

Check it out:

Also, Steve Wozniak of Apple was working on a startup called Wheels Of Zeus (um. WOZ) that was planning on doing things like this with mesh netoworks on unlicensed FRS radio spectum. I think that died a while ago, or probably should have.

By the way. I love the fact that a serious privacy discussion can come off of a silly news story.

Derek Kerton.

|333173|3|_||3 says:


If I track a journalist who I believe is doing digging into the dealings of a company, who is likely to have his ‘phone, i only need to wathc GPS data to find out who is staying with him for a suspicious amount of time (this should be fiarly easy to code for), and see if any leaker is dumb enough to bring his ‘phone.

Rob (user link) says:

After reading many reviews and information on GPS, I decided to buy my GPS Tracking System

I bought it at Bluewater http://www.bluewatersecurityprofessionals.com. Lots of Reasons that I bought there:

1. Competitive Prices
2. Lots of Selection of different types and Brands ( They walked me thru which one was best for me and didn’t force me into 1 type)
3. Much info on their website and when I had questions there customer service rep was very knowledgeable.

I purchased a The Trackstick and it is is nothing like any of the other GPS tracking products on the market. Its software is very top rate with hundreds of different features. You can sort data, export to Google Earth (the Google Earth integration is flawless)

Because of the vast number of features, it can take some time to learn how to use the Trackstick propperly but when you do, the information you can get as a result is amazing.

The geotagging feature worked well for us when we were in Italy. It tagged every photo exactly where they were taken and showed all the ground we covered on our trip.

For Me: This is what I really like compared to the others:

-Software is amazing
-When used as instructed, batteries last a very long time. I calculated 10 times longer than my Garmin.
-Google Earth Integration is flawless
-Great product support
-The data and time filtering is very helpful
-Geotagging with Flickr was fun for family photos.

Overall, I give the Trackstick and Bluewater very high marks.

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