Bad Ideas: Stealing Products That Can Be Tracked Wirelessly

from the just-a-suggestion dept

Slashdot points us to the amusing story of technology “solving” a theft of an irrigation controller on a farm, thanks to a wireless connection. The irrigation controller was stolen, which was first noticed when it sent an error message to the guy who runs them. A few weeks later, though, he was surprised to get a signal from the controller, and he was able to communicate with the device and get the company that supplied the wireless connection to triangulate and reveal the general location of the unit (the guy had the maker of the controller, who obviously contracts with the wireless provider, request this info to make sure the request was legit). From that, the guy used Google Earth to figure out where the controller must be — and went to the local police. After investigating the person whose property it ended up on, the controller went missing again… only to turn back up in its original location a few weeks later.

While it’s a neat story of technology thwarting a theft, there are a few questions raised by the story. To be honest, the full writeup so pumps up this particular brand of irrigation controller system, that it almost sounds like an apocryphal story made up to hype up how much better this controller is than competitors (look, it’s theft proof!). Also, despite the “happy ending” — the actual thieves were not apprehended, and future thieves will simply learn to disable the wireless communications ability. In the meantime, though, it’s a reminder that technology is making the job of the ordinary thief somewhat more difficult these days.

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Comments on “Bad Ideas: Stealing Products That Can Be Tracked Wirelessly”

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Anonymous Coward says:

This just goes to show you what Linux or any non-MS OS can make you do…

Police have identified the body found in the Oakland hills as convicted killer Hans Reiser’s estranged wife.

A prominent software programmer who had denied having anything to do with his wife’s disappearance even after he was convicted of her murder, Reiser led police to the body on Monday, defense attorneys said.

The abrupt about-face came just two days before 44-year-old Hans Reiser was due in court to face sentencing on a conviction of first-degree murder returned by a jury in April.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

what in the WORLD does this having anything to do with ANYTHING related to this article? and where in the world do you see anything having to do with “NON MS OS”? Windows CE can probably do this kind of thing, as well as XP or Vista (though they probably wouldn’t be on an embedded controller). this is the worst comment i’ve ever seen

Trish says:

Looking at that website you linked to and reading that article, makes me feel like the whole thing was a bunch of paid advertisements, including the article. lol looks like they’re taking your advice.
“The incident brings Rain Master’s ‘Visionary Solutions to Water Management through Technology” to a new meaning of the term ‘visionary.'”
That’s some valiant journalistic reporting.

Chunky Vomit says:

Phone Home

I personally like it when my devices, and my company’s devices phone home to let me know what they are up to these days.

The reality is, with computers, it is quite easy to make them phone home and let you know what IP address they are using and other valuable information.

For one client, we actually have two phone homes for the laptops. One runs on the service level and phones home every few minutes to give vital info on the machine.

The other runs on the application level and phones home letting us know if it has or hasn’t been able to run a successful backup.

Anonymous Coward says:

Quandry of the Wireless BBQ Dog

If John McCain ate a neighbor’s dog, and the dog was had a GPS chip, is it safe to say he will eat babies too? The logic behind this is such that he may posses the baby’s power, health, and longevity.

Seems crazy, but it holds some merit- His main challenge may actually be internal: Instead of purchasing Lifealert service, which could be considered “Porkbarrel Spending”, it may make more sense to have a BBQ and have an event where a neighbors dog disappears like magic.

How to handle with the media:
Ever since formally recognized in 1960s in the landmark case California v. Douglas Jones, Kleptomania has been recognized as a valid mental disorder and it would be best to be prepared for this as a defense if questioned by the media. Possibly, it would be best if some corporate sponsor just paid for the next few years of LifeAlert service and spare the widespread national shame. The alternative outcome is certainly not desirable- Can you find a positive way to break it to millions of families of this disorder affecting millions of elderly men? This is not an easy task

If we could track him wirelessly, we could determine if he has keys in his pockets and alert the governing authorities at the retirement home before the patient displays advanced kleptomaniac tendencies involving salt and pepper shakers.

Speaking of which, it should be noted that we found nearly 500 salt and pepper shakers in the past week from various cafes across the country. It’s probably best that they be quietly sold on eBay. If he asks, what we’re doing with the salt and pepper shakers, just say it’s a test of a new job creation stimulus package.

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