Yet Another WiFi-Borrowing Criminal Caught

from the it-is-possible dept

You may recall the story that got a lot of press earlier this month about the bank robber who, rather creatively used Craigslist to enlist a bunch of unwitting conspirators. He put up a day labor job ad, telling anyone interested to show up at a particular corner (in front of a bank) dressed in a very specific manner (blue shirt, safety goggles, dayglo work vest) where they would find out what work they were expected to do. Instead, the guy robbed the bank dressed in the same manner, and left police confused as they saw a bunch of folks who met the description of the bank robber.

However, it appears that the guy has now been caught, as police used some good old fashioned detective work to figure out his identity — relying on witness clues and DNA evidence. While the method of his getaway seems intriguing, what may be even more worthy of note is that the guy posted the original Craigslist ad using an open WiFi, believing that would help him avoid getting caught. Over the past few years, we’ve heard time and time again law enforcement officials complain and fret about open WiFi being a criminals’ best friend, because it meant a criminal could do whatever they want and never get caught. Yet, as we’ve seen time and time and time again, such criminals can often be tracked down via other means.

Yes, it’s true that an open WiFi network makes it more difficult to track down the criminal, but we don’t live in a world where criminals are expected to leave a calling card everywhere they go either. Instead, we expect police to do a variety of detective work. A guy who walks into a bank with a ski mask isn’t identifiable by his face, but the police look at other clues. In the same way, a criminal who uses open WiFi isn’t identifiable via his IP address, but police look at other clues. And that’s just what they did in this and many other cases that involve criminal behavior using open WiFi.

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Comments on “Yet Another WiFi-Borrowing Criminal Caught”

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Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

I blame movies like Ocean's Eleven

I blame movies like Ocean’s Eleven for giving criminals the idea that if they’re cunning, ingenious and novel they can get away with their crimes.

Such movies should be banned.

At least they should always be written such that the criminal gets caught in the end, or at worst, that they are left trapped in a dire predicament like in ‘The Italian Job’ (the original, Michael Caine version).

All morons should be sterilized says:

Re: I blame movies like Ocean's Eleven

I hope you haven’t had the opportunity to reproduce yet, and despite the extremely low likelihood of that, there’s always a remote possibility that somehow you did. That would be a terrible blow to the rest of the world, and one needing immediate correction by your sterilization. Perhaps a lobotomy would also help – but it almost seems likely that you’ve already had that done. I suppose you’re a believer in things like The Legion of Decency and other mindless idiocy foisted on the gullible and sheep-like public in this country. There are dinosaur fossils with more advanced thinking capabilities than you possess. So, put your tinfoil hat back on, turn on Fox News, and continue rotting your tiny, little brain. If anything should be banned, it should be your ability to breed.

anais nin says:

Re: Re: I blame movies like Ocean's Eleven

i have to agree
movies put bad ideas in peoples heads.
i feel that all movies should be banned.
in fact, all thinking should be banned
at puberty, children should be lobotomized and have shock
electrudes inserted
this way if they think, they can be punished.

i actually beleive this has already been going on for some time,
how else could you explain the newly elected terrorist
oops, i mean president


Another IT Guy says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I blame movies like Ocean's Eleven

Banning movies? Idiot.

New president elect a terrorist? Anais I wouldn’t go criticizing someone for being stupid and then say something even more moronic, not to mention bigoted.

It’s cause of short-sighted, bigoted, morons like you this country has elected terrible presidents in the past. I apply all comments from “All morons should be sterilized” to you Anais.

Crabby (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 not bigotry

Is this what we’re going to hear for 4 years? Every time someone disagrees with or says something that isn’t worshipful to the president, then they’re a bigot? And you have the nerve to tell other people they’re saying something stupid?

Even those who disagree with you or your politics have their right to free speech. And that doesn’t make them bigots. If anything, you are the bigot for bringing it up. Please stop labeling people.

hegemon13 says:

Re: Re: Re:4 not bigotry

Um, the previous poster didn’t disagree with anything specific. He simply made the baseless claim of calling him a terrorist. I am no fan of Obama’s policies, but that kind of extremism is indefensible. I think that calling someone a bigot and short-sighted for that behavior is perfectly accurate. And, as you point out, Another IT Guy has freedom of speech, as well, whether or not you agree.

Greg says:

Re: Re: Re:3 I blame movies like Ocean's Eleven

Terrible presidents like Jimmy Carter (anyone remember the oil embargo & the hostages in Iran?,) Bill Clinton (and Hilary.. Rose law firm? Monica? Nationalizing health care?) and now Barack Obama.

Too early to tell with Obama? Nah, he’s a liberal and that’s really all you need to know. But throw in this:

Obama has had a relationship with Bill Ayers, a radical communist and terrorist who planted bombs in the 1970’s. The bombs were planted at the Pentagon and Capitol Building. Ayers recently stated that he “doesn’t regret setting the bombs,” and went on to say thaat he didn’t do enough bombing. He has contributed money to Obama’s campaign and Obama’s campaign admitted that the two had a “relationship” and were “friends.”

And, with support from Hamas, Obama has friends in Muslim terrorist organizations, whether he wants them or not.

Isaac K (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 I blame movies like Ocean's Eleven

“Too early to tell with Obama? Nah, he’s a liberal and that’s really all you need to know.”

Bigotry? certainly. Judging someone purely by a label makes you a bigot.
Fortunately, you can just ignore them because, hey, Hard Core GOPers don’t care about any other opinion and CERTAINLY won’t listen to anyone rebutting them.

Oh, and Clinton? What was that? We actually had an effective budget SURPLUS and LESS GOVERNMENT under a DEMOCRAT than the REPUBLICAN Bush Jr.?

Really. Moral objections are only that – moral – and don’t determine how good of a president he was.
And don’t get me started about the whole “terrorist” connection.

By-the-by; Before you start with the mud-slinging and Hitler calling (i did it first), I am actually a registered Independant.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 I blame movies like Ocean's Eleven

Terrible presidents like Jimmy Carter (anyone remember the oil embargo & the hostages in Iran?,) Bill Clinton (and Hilary.. Rose law firm? Monica? Nationalizing health care?) and now Barack Obama.

That’s really weird, you skipped some… unless you’re saying Nixon and the Bushes were awesome?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I blame movies like Ocean's Eleven

Okay Hitler….

Seriously, why do people make a very stupid, rights revoking comment when replying and bitching about someone making a very stupid, rights revoking comment?

1) Crosbie Fitch is un-American and anti freedom of speech. As evidence: He wants to ban the telling of stories because its about “bad guys” doing “bad things.”

2) All morons should be sterilized is un-American and pro eugenics. As evidence: He wants to take away someone’s ability to have children because he doesn’t agree with them.

3) Anais is a total bigot. I sadly only wish I could call that un-American, but at least less people than voted for McCain thing along those lines.

People need to go back and READ the damned constitution, and then go out and read everything else written by the founding fathers.

People seem to be forgetting that no matter how personally biased many of them were, they still tried to do what was best for *everyone* even if its only later down the road…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: I blame movies like Ocean's Eleven

So let me get this straight about point number 3; anyone who voted for McCain must have done so because they are a bigot? Did you even account for the fact that about half the country vote have voted for the Republican party in the past and may have done so this time because they are still Republicans?

If you want to see an example of racism; look at the percentage of the black population that voted for Obama vs the percentage that voted Democratic in the past. Last time I checked, choosing one person over another based on race is discrimination.

Timmeh says:

Re: Re: Re: I blame movies like Ocean's Eleven

Hoohah! Reeled you right in, sucka! I guess your self-righteous priggishness prevents you from recognizing a little snotty satire and ball-breaking. But then, given that the amount of time you probably spend congratulating yourself on your moral superiority precludes you looking any deeper than that. Yes, I’m sure you are a moral paragon that all of us should stand in awe of, and your views trump everyone else’s. Glad to know you spend considerable time reading history that supports your view, because if you read it somewhere, it must be gospel if it agrees with you. You sound like you don’t get out much, and that’s a good thing, too. After all, who would want to be pontificated to by you all day? It feels good to be pilloried by a pedantic twit, and I’m sure you feel equally satisfied. Have a lovely day.

Chris says:

Re: Re: I blame movies like Ocean's Eleven

Sarcasm? you here people say the likes of this all the time. Ban this because it makes people do bad stuff. Ban this video game, this movie made my brother kill my mother… blah blah blah. hardly a sarcastic comment. Many polliticians think the same. In florida motorcycles are considered dangerous so to help stem people from getting them we are seeing steeper fines, by more than 10 fold from the same exact offense that a car would see. Example, improperly displayed tag, on a car about 70$ fee. Motorcycle $1,000.00 1rst offense, 2nd 2,500.00 and lose liscence for 3 years, 3rd 5,000 and lose liscense for 5 years. for an improperly displayed tag. B.C. Someone deemed it to dangerous for us to own so since they cant ban them they’ll just entice you not to own them. /rant

its not sarcasm, its real, and its F’in stupid.

josh says:

Re: I blame movies like Ocean's Eleven

Ocean’s 11 (the not original, George Clooney version) and the Itaian Job (the not original, Mark Wahlberg version) each give us the idea that we can get away with our crimes if the victim is as scummy or more so than ourselves. The cunning, ingenious and novel methods make the story more fun, but they have no play in the morality tail. Go easy society is safe from Hollywood.

Chris (profile) says:

Re: I blame movies like Ocean's Eleven

You probably also blame video games for violence too; Dont you?

Got news for you, I enjoyed that movie and have no intentions of becoming a “cunning, ingenious and novel” criminal. Neither do 99.99% of the people that watched that movie. the other .01% are stupid enough to do the crime long before they saw the movie. And that of course would imply that oceans 11 movie was anything like this crime which it was i guess if you count stealing being involved, I guess that movie inspired whoever snatched your purse too. I think Idiots like you should be banned from voicing an opinion, or better yet, from voting. You should never take away the right of the common people because you have an opinion that people did something wrong with that common right. (ie. guns, violence in games and movies, other crimes in games and movies, motorcycles, powerfull cars, blah blah blah) /rant


Another Person says:

Re: I blame movies like Ocean's Eleven

Are you really that hopeless? Would you really wish that no movies about bad things be made?

The people that write the movie scripts don’t get their ideas from other movies about bad things, They use their imagination to come up with new stories. Should they ban using your imagination as well?

Anyone that is going to rob a bank is going to rob a bank even if they have to use an original (That means they thought up the method themselves) plan to do it.

Do you really think that banning “Such” movies will stop people from doing bad things, or even slow it down. Good grief!!!!!

Isaac K (profile) says:

Wait... Godwin?

Have we hit Godwin’s law yet?
Obama is the next Hitler?
Anais is the next Hitler?
We’re ALL Hitler? And I’m Jewish!
Maybe we’re only spectres in the Furher’s dream…

Terrorist president.
The world did not end on Tuesday.
Every Democrat the wins suddenly becomes “the end of America,” and Repubs as well.

Hasn’t happened yet.
Please leave your revolting alarmism at home.

Oh, and Crabby?
Disagreeing with the president or disliking him is not bigotry. I can respect those who just don’t like him or disagree with his policies. That’s fine.
Since when is calling someone a terrorist “disagreeing” though? I guess Obama disagrees with that assesment – He doesn’t think he’s a terrorist?!
Feel free to disagree. Please don’t blatantly offend and insult. THAT’s bigotry at work.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Wait... Godwin?

I agree with you Isaac, though I do believe the end of america came with clinton and quite possibly continued into its ruination with GWB, though its not entirely their doings, we have 500+ people who we elect to make sure they cannot, there is really very little the president can do to stop them from ruining the country. this election I think will only sink us into the quicksand more, though hopefully it will not pull us entirely under before we can get a real president into office that is looking out for the better good and embraces democracy rather than socialism.

What really gets me is that the people who elected this president were only listening to his words and not actually watching him.

Yes he wants to end the war in Iraq, exactly like we did several times before leaving it a hot bed for an even worse enemy to arise in. Nor will he bring the troops home, he will start a new war, in Pakistan, then Iran, Syria, etc.

Yes he wants to provide public health care, but you know what? That will only effectually remove private health care as an option. Smaller employers will drop health coverage all together and require that their employees seek private health care out on their own, or use public health care, all to be more competitive. Then larger and larger companies will drop their coverage to maintain their competitive edge. So now you have to take a number when you have a heart-attack.

Yes he says he wants to lower taxes, but how do you lower taxes when you increase spending, we can expect immediate tax increases and now all the people who are currently barely hanging on to their lively hoods will in essence have that handle ripped away from them by our new president.

Yes he terminated his affiliation with Rev. Wright, but the man was his leader and friend for decades. Do you really believe he wasn’t listening to “god DAMN america”? You choose your friends by sharing a common interest. I could give you that they were friends in spite of Wrights personal views of the country, but his wife is also Mrs “this is the first time I’ve been proud to be an american”. Does a man who surrounds himself with such spite for america really belong LEADING america? do you really think he would have our best interests in mind?

I will respect the office, not the man, and though I don’t believe he should be there, unless he royally screws up, I will obey as a lawful citizen should. and by that I only mean that I will behave as a citizen should, not with unconditional obedience but rather follow the laws placed in the constitution.

Nasch says:

Re: Re: Wait... Godwin?

I encourage you to go look this up yourself, but democracy and socialism are orthogonal, meaning not related. Democracy is a form of government, and socialism is an economic system. There are democratic socialist nations in Europe. And if you think that the US has not had any socialist policies yet, you’re quite mistaken. You would have to go back to at least the 1920s for that.

But “socialism”, rather than a word we use to discuss the nature of an economic policy, has now in American political discourse become a synonym for “evil”.

Kevin says:


I was expecting to scroll down through the comments and find some ideas and debate on how they tracked this guy down through an open wifi connection, instead just a bunch of americans yelling at each other.

Do you think they narrowed it down via his mac address that was possibly logged on the router? First half of a mac address is the vendor, then you could goto the vendor and find out when the nic card was assembled and sold, and in what units (laptops), narrow it down to the stores in the area that sold those laptops and go through those records? Just a thought?

DC says:

Re: Wow..

Agreed. The elections are over people. Go use your leftover political energy for something good like volunteering for a cause you think is worthy, instead of anonymously arguing on the internet.

Criminals will find new and creative ways to get money. Movies are not to blame for that. I mean Ocean’s Eleven? Seriously pull your head out of the sand.

I think it would be interesting to see how they tracked him. They probably tracked him via physical clues (tattoos or other distinguishing marks) from the eye witnesses. Unlocked wifi is not the culprit here. I mean that’s like saying restaurants are culprits because that’s where the criminal thought through his entire plan.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Wow..

criminals are the only ones stupid enough to be criminals, that being said, it would not take much to figure out where his mistakes were. such as using a clean car, leaving no dna… if he were really smart he would know there really isn’t a way to leave no trace behind. you have to be perfect down to the most minuscule detail.

John Slade says:

Re: Wow..

That’s what I thought they used his MAC. Though a MAC can be spoofed it is a great way to catch someone. If the MAC is spoofed then cameras around the Wi-Fi spot can be found. This is probably why smarter criminals spoof their MAC address and hack into the Wi-Fi of a private address. Sure some poor guy gets the blame until they find out he was hacked but the criminal has time to get away.

Tailwind Jr says:

Re: Wow..

I too thought this would be comments about the guy getting caught. To come here and see that it pretty much is people commenting on the first guys comment is rather depressing. It just shows you why in general the public needs supervision.

Talk about off topic. Allthough I agree with some of the comments. I wont say which ones because no matter which ones I choose I will get comments from others that see me as a shallow idiot as well.

Does anyone know how the guy got caught?

Jaster says:

Idiots, Morons and good job by the police

Yeah kevin, its quite intriguing as to how they caught this guy. Obviously some hi-tec and lo-tech means to an end, security camera’s, eye witnesses, mac addresses, it nice to know though that some criminals are actually being caught, go the po po.

As for everyone turning this into some freedom of speech hootnaney, bloody grow up. And as far as idiots, morons and bigots go, give them enough rope as the saying goes.

Yakko Warner says:

Not what I thought the article would be

I saw the title, and I thought the article would be reporting on yet another person who was prosecuted for daring to leech off another person’s open WiFi.

Or should we wait and see if that gets added to his list of charges?

*looks at other comments*
Oh, wait, I’m sorry, was I supposed to comment on the story, or on politics?

Wolfy says:


Excuse, please, but humans ARE animals, and can be changed through the practice of Eugenics. As proof, I point to ANY domesticated animal breed. All that is needed is control over the animals’ choices of breeding partners. You want a “teutonic”? I can give you one within a few generations of breeding control. Just because Hitler was in favor of the practice doe NOT invalidate it.

Kirk says:

Thanks Kevin and Yakko

Finally other people who are interested in the subject of the article. It’s very misleading since they talk about the use of open Wi-Fi networks; however, if was caught by tracing the license plate of the car he was driving makes me draw the conclusion that open Wi-Fi networks are still an open door for criminals to plot their scam.

Kevin brings up a good point, why couldn’t they find someone via Mac Address? Unless they used a public computer I would think they would be able to trace it through local providers. Just a thought.

Yakko Warner says:

Re: Thanks Kevin and Yakko

MAC addresses are supposed to be globally unique and (I thought, could be wrong) used to identify the card’s vendor, which could be an additional clue. The trick would be logging that information (just looking at my own network logs, of the data that gets stored, I don’t store anything at the MAC level, just the IP level). And that’s assuming the criminal hasn’t changed their MAC (easy enough to do, although a “criminal in a hurry” might not think of it if an open WiFi connection lets him in without any MAC adjustments).

Even so, though, just because WiFi doesn’t provide automatic traceability for possible criminal tracking doesn’t mean it’s evil. Not every device a criminal might use is required to point back to the criminal.

From Masnick: “An open WiFi network makes it more difficult to track down a criminal.” No. It’s not a barrier, making it more difficult. It’s just not a help. Much the same way a public pay phone isn’t much of a help.

Anonymous Coward says:

Like the other posters here I’m just going to post completely random crap that has nothing to do with the article so here goes. Why do we park on a driveway and drive on a parkway? If a tree falls in a forest and no one is aroud to hear it fall, does Exxon get to drill there?

I could go on but what’s the point. If your posts aren’t on the topic people will just skip over them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Terriorist President

I don’t hear people spamming about Bush being a terrorist near as much as ppl call Oboma. If you’re that scared of people, please leave society.

I swear, conspiricy theorist abound.

If he truely was a terrorist, he could do more damage as not President as he wouldn’t be under the watchful eye of everyone. You think Secret Service is gonna stand by as he meets privately with known terriorists?.. I think not.

Irrational fear comes from irrational people and fearful people do stupid things, thus leaving these fearful people labeled as ‘stupid’.

Lou Slawe says:

WiFi Guy caught by cyber methods?

Reading the article it would appear this bank robber was caught even though he used public WiFi and the authorities still, somehow electronically tracked him. Reading the published account one learns that the robber stashed his false hair, jacket and other garb near the bank, an ordinary citizen noticed the unusual behavior and wrote down the guy’s car license number. Decidedly a low tech capture!
It seems that the rest of the herein commentators may have lost sight of the facts surrounding the criminal’s capture. If the article is to be believed, just maybe his nefarious public WiFi idea was valid?

hegemon13 says:

Ridiculous logic

“Over the past few years, we’ve heard time and time again law enforcement officials complain and fret about open WiFi being a criminals’ best friend, because it meant a criminal could do whatever they want and never get caught.”

Wow, under that logic, we better go back and ban payphones, computers in public libraries, even public meeting places. After all, we wouldn’t want anyone to be able to say anything that couldn’t be traced back to them.

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