Louisiana Drug Warriors Bungle Surveillance So Badly Their Target Catches Them Placing A Tracking Device On Her Car
from the points-for-enthusiasm,-I-guess dept
A woman who was recently arrested for drugs said she found a tracking device on her vehicle over the weekend. She said she watched law enforcement officers place it on her car Friday.
The device was found under the passenger side of her car. It’s a black box with a lithium battery inside and a large magnet.
The woman, Tiara Beverly, was arrested last month on “serious drug charges.” A few days after her arrest, five officers showed up at her door to ask about someone she knew. She had no answers for them and went down and filed a complaint against the state troopers because she felt they had treated her poorly during this interaction.
Two days later, she saw people hanging around her car. A day after that, she found the tracking device. Not sure what it was (she thought it might have been a bomb) and not particularly keen to interact with law enforcement again at that point, she spoke to the NAACP to find someone to approach law enforcement for her.
That’s when law enforcement finally decided to open up about the device now in Beverly’s possession:
Eugene Collins [Baton Rouge NAACP President] said State Police contacted him Monday demanding the return of the device.
“They asked me to return the box,” Collins said. “It could make the situation more difficult for me.”
Why this would make things “more difficult” for a third party not actually in possession of the tracking device is unknown. Either way, the device was ultimately returned to law enforcement after it was found attached to a utility pole across the street from a local middle school.
But the device wasn’t found by the agency demanding its return or by the investigators unwilling to speak about the super-sensitive tracking device because doing so would jeopardize the investigation officers were currently bungling. It was found by WBRZ reporters following up on Tiara Beverly’s story.
At least the statement provided to WBRZ says the State Police got a warrant for the tracker. That at least appears to comply with Supreme Court precedent. But everything else about it appears incredibly amateurish. Warrant or not, investigators would be better off not being seen attaching tracking devices to criminal suspects’ vehicles. It kind of defeats the purpose of surreptitious tracking when the installation is less than surreptitious.
This isn’t the first time a surveillance target has discovered, removed, and, consequently, received threats from law enforcement for “taking” something investigators willfully attached to someone else’s property. But judging from that viral experience, there’s not much in it for the target of this attempted surveillance either.
A Redditor who found an FBI tracking device attached to his car received a visit from agents after he removed the device and asked questions about it on Reddit. The FBI made angry noises about any lack of cooperation from the target of its failed surveillance attempt being perceived as its own criminal act, but in the end, no additional charges were filed. Unfortunately, a lawsuit brought against the FBI failed because it wasn’t clear at that point that warrants were needed and all other privacy violation allegations were dismissed because the person chose to bring it to the attention of Reddit, which soon brought to the attention of journalists and commentators all over the nation.
This is just officers being bad at their job. They’re probably not going to get another chance to turn Beverly’s vehicle into rolling probable cause. They had a shot and they blew it. Then they got angry and never even bothered to track down the current location of the device investigators said should be immediately returned to them because of their ongoing investigation.