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Stolen iPad's Reported Location Not Enough To Warrant Search, Say Dutch Police 619

Posted by timothy
from the oh-that's-hardly-specific-enough dept.
lbalbalba writes "A location message sent from a stolen iPad by an anti-theft application turns out to be insufficient evidence to issue a search warrant for the Dutch authorities. A Dutch man reported his iPad as stolen to the Dutch authorities last month. Despite the fact that the rightful owner was able to locate his iPad within hours of the theft, thanks to the anti-theft application he had installed, the Dutch authorities did not issue a warrant to perform a search. According to the prosecutors, a search warrant is 'a very heavy measure,' that should only be used when there is 'sufficient suspicion.' The theft report by the owner was viewed as 'no objective evidence' in the case."
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Stolen iPad's Reported Location Not Enough To Warrant Search, Say Dutch Police

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  • Plan B. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:31AM (#39364685)
    That is when you grab the pistol out of the nightstand, take a cab over to the criminals house, break down the door and take justice into your own hands. At least you tried the legal way first.
    • Re:Plan B. (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:39AM (#39364831)

      A man notices that burglars are trying to break into his garage. He calls the police who tells him that they don't have any police officers available at the moment.

      A few minutes later he calls the police and says that they don't need to bother because he just shot the burglars. The telephone operator is horrified and several police cars quickly arrive at the man's home and they catch the unharmed burglars red handed.

      "Didn't you say that you shot the burglars?" one police officer asked.

      "Didn't you say that you didn't have any police officers available?" the man retorted...

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        Good one. :-)

        Of course the next thing that would happen is the police arrest the homeowner for filing a false report, or abusing 911 resources, or wasting police officers' time on a crime of low priority. Or maybe just "disturbing the peace" which is the standard catch-all to arrest someone who did nothing wrong (like Professor Gates).

        • Re:Plan B. (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:59AM (#39365147)

          Good one. :-)

          Of course the next thing that would happen is the police arrest the homeowner for filing a false report, or abusing 911 resources, or wasting police officers' time on a crime of low priority. Or maybe just "disturbing the peace" which is the standard catch-all to arrest someone who did nothing wrong (like Professor Gates).

          interestingness - disturbing the peace is NOT an arrestable offence (in the UK) once the act is over with unless the disturbance is 1) on going, or 2) likely to reoccur.

          The police officer that tried to arrest me for such didn't like it when I pointed this out to him, but he checked and found that I was correct.

          • by gknoy (899301)

            That's okay, I hear it's pretty common here (US) to arrest you for ... resisting arrest.

      • Re:Plan B. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by meerling (1487879) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:14AM (#39365453)
        Old joke, but too closely based in reality.
        Twice we had people firing guns at our house when it was evening and we were on the porch. Saw the muzzleflash both times. Cops wouldn't even call us back, much less drive by and see if there were any bodies.

        My brother was doing security at night and called in some intruders that had broken in. The cops said they wouldn't send anybody else, so he said, "guess that means I'll have to shoot them." and hung up. Cops were there in less than 5 minutes.

        It seems if it's not giving a traffic ticket, the local cops don't give a sh##.
    • Your post is a fine example of why you get called a "gun nut", in case you were ever wondering.
  • Lessons learnt. (Score:5, Informative)

    by MRe_nl (306212) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:32AM (#39364711)

    Whatever you do,
    whatever happens:
    Don't call the police.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:42AM (#39364863)

      Don't call the police.

      Unless you're a cop or family member of one. If this was a cop's personal iPad, and not John Q Publics, the story would of read something like:

      "Dutch police and SWAT team raided an apartment early Wednesday morning over stolen goods. The thief was shot multiple times after an iPad with a 'gun-sounds' app installed, was mistaken for a real weapon. As a routine measure, all cops have been placed on paid leave, pending an investigation. No other stolen items were recovered."

    • by MacTO (1161105)

      There's cynicism, and then there's paranoid delusions. I'll let you figure out what impression your comment gives.

      • Re:Lessons learnt. (Score:5, Informative)

        by theshowmecanuck (703852) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @12:12PM (#39366481) Journal

        What you obviously lack is life experience. Here is an example in the moving industry in Toronto to help you with that. It is well known that there are scam artists out there [blogto.com] who will quote you a price and then try to jack up the prices of the move by charging you a hefty deposit, loading your stuff, and then telling you there were "extra charges for extra work" before unloading. And if you don't pay they drive off with your goods. For the longest time and often even now when you call the police they (would) tell you it is a civil matter [kijiji.ca], even though it looks, feels, and smells like fraud. Quote from the link:

        I have called the police and reported how I was intimidated and asked to go to the bank and get more money before they even finished loading my furniture, and the officer practically told me that this is a civil matter and there's not much they can do about this.

        I got screwed like this once. But fortunately (if that is even applicable), it was one quite small load. However it has happened to others many times and in many places for hundreds and even thousands of dollars.

        Finally the police arrested one crew for doing this to one poor soul. Then it turned out that the victim in this case was an off duty police officer [torontolife.com]. This was the first time many people had heard of actual criminal charges in these cases.

        Charming. It's a shame the police didn't cotton on to this earlier: they admit that they ignored many earlier reports because they sounded like civil, not criminal, disputes. What changed? We certainly can't say, but CBC Radio was reporting yesterday that one of the victims of this scam was a police officer.

        Now this was at least a couple of years ago so references are hard to find among all the advertising cruft and bullshit that google always returns, but there should be enough in the links etc I posted to show I'm not bullshitting. The only reason the police did anything was because it was one of their own. That is not paranoid delusions. That is reality. Before you make judgments, get out of the basement or whatever insular world you are in and see the world or at least pay attention to it.

        It is a well know human trait that people protect their own. Police are no different.

    • Re:Lessons learnt. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:06AM (#39365289) Homepage Journal

      Whatever you do, whatever happens: Don't call the police.

      That's incredibly bad advice. My bank called me at work last April asking if I was missing some checks, that someone had tried to cash an obviously forged one. When I got home I found my back door broken open and a lot of stuff gone -- including an almost ful box of checks. I called the cops, who took the report, went to the bank and viewed the video, and arrested the guy half an hour later.

      However, he had accomplices. Over the next year (it's still going on) I would get notices from merchants that I'd cashed checks on a closed account. Of course I cloised if after the theft! I sent all of them copies of the police report, and the fraudulent bastards, every single one, turned them into the county's State's Attorney anyway.

      Had I not reported the burglary I could have wound up in prison for those damned stolen checks.

      If you get in an automobile accident you had damned well better call the cops, because if you don't you're jailhouse-bound. If there is an injury you've committed a felony, and the cops are pretty damned serious about folks leaving the scene of an accident.

      Now, someone attcks you in a bar? Don't call the cops, they're as likely to arrest you as your attacker.

      • by Loosifur (954968)

        Besides which, for many things like stolen credit cards, stolen checks, etc., part of your defense against having to honor the checks or the card purchases is to show that you took reasonable steps to mitigate the damage, i.e. reported the theft to the police ASAP. Otherwise, you could just as easily have spent the money yourself and reported the charges as fraudulent to avoid having to pay.

      • by jittles (1613415)

        If you get in an automobile accident you had damned well better call the cops, because if you don't you're jailhouse-bound. If there is an injury you've committed a felony, and the cops are pretty damned serious about folks leaving the scene of an accident.

        How the hell did you get modded informative? You do NOT have to call the police in the event of an accident. All you have to do is leave your name, phone number, address, and insurance information. If someone is obviously injured, you must also provide medical assistance. You do not have to call the police unless there is a death, hit and run, another crime was committed, or serious injury. How do you prove that you stopped and gave your information? Well the other guy can't claim you drove off if you h

  • by mhajicek (1582795) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:33AM (#39364729)
    A friend of mine in California had his house broken into. His iPad and a shotgun were stolen. He tracked the phone to the trunk of a car, told the police, and they did nothing.
    • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:36AM (#39364771) Homepage Journal

      He tracked the phone to the trunk of a car, told the police, and they did nothing.

      Consequently, if anything happens to the vehicle he tracked the phone to or the person who owns it, your friend will become suspect #1, all because he made the mistake of talking to the police.

      • by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:21AM (#39365595) Homepage Journal

        Had he not reported the stolen shotgun and the thief got caught shooting someone with it, they'll assume he sold the firearm to a convicted felon and arrested him.

        Yes, if the thief is the victim of an attack, he'll certainly be a "person of interest" but do you rally think a criminal is going to call the cops because somebody beat the shit out of him? The thief won't even call the cops if your friend broke the thief's trunk open and got his phone and gun back.

        Thieves generally avoid the police whenever they can.

        • Yes, if the thief is the victim of an attack, he'll certainly be a "person of interest" but do you rally think a criminal is going to call the cops because somebody beat the shit out of him? The thief won't even call the cops if your friend broke the thief's trunk open and got his phone and gun back.

          In the USA, someone actually called the police because someone robbed him and took his illegal drugs away. Police actually caught the robber, and they got two convictions.

    • Police are just there to "stop" drugs, "stop" prostitution, and beat protesters. They don't actually care about crime that affects the average person. I've had a gun pointed at my head for trying to ask directions, but when I get robbed, they won't even take a report because "the phone system is down and you have to drive 40 minutes to make the report in person". But oh, you'll make me turn my marijuana-legalization-themed shirt inside out at my sister's public high school graduation under threat of arrest. It's good that we have our fucking priorities straight.
      • by Hatta (162192)

        But oh, you'll make me turn my marijuana-legalization-themed shirt inside out at my sister's public high school graduation under threat of arrest.

        Seriously? You did that? Rights are like muscles, they get weak if they're not exercised. You need to flex your rights more.

    • by wjhoffman1983 (1145155) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:40AM (#39364835)

      This is the way it should be. Any Joe Programmer can make an app that makes it look like stolen goods are behind that closed door. Taking evidence from theft prevention and tracking apps is the exact same as taking the victim's word for it.

      • by Skater (41976) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:45AM (#39364927) Homepage Journal
        This could be the most insightful comment so far. The police supposedly use and believe Lojack; what would it take for them to rely on Apple's Find My Phone (or whatever it is) and equivalent similar options for electronic devices?
        • by eepok (545733) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:09AM (#39365357) Homepage

          Liability. It always comes down to liability. Lojack stands behind their product and their training. That's why police departments trust it. It's the same with OnStar calling an ambulance on your behalf or your ability to prove that a car belongs to your by showing matching photo ID and vehicle registration. These are well funded systems with throngs of support people, very high risk, and thus very high insurance for their products and actions.

          When liability is externalized and the PD can point to another entity to say, "Hey, it's their system. If they're wrong and we do wrong by trusting them, they will hold the liability." When they can't, they don't trust the external identification system.

          If you want the PD to trust Apple's Find My Phone or similar programs, they have to start a relationship with various PDs, give them training, and have massive insurance themselves. Then the cost of such programs will go up and actually start to match the value of the service (just like Lojack).

      • by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:49AM (#39364981) Homepage

        Taking evidence from theft prevention and tracking apps is the exact same as taking the victim's word for it.

        Agreed. And that word has been good enough in the past.

    • by guttentag (313541) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:55AM (#39365071) Journal

      A friend of mine in California had his house broken into. His iPad and a shotgun were stolen. He tracked the phone to the trunk of a car, told the police, and they did nothing.

      Perhaps they were skeptical because he seemed to believe that either his iPad or his shotgun was a phone.

    •     You have to consider what the other possibilities are.

          I see a guy put an iPad in the trunk of his car. I call the police and say that my iPad was stolen, and describe the car and the license place number. So what do they do? Arrest the guy with the iPad, and let you walk with it?

          Your evidence is shaky at best. So you put some tracking software on his device? You fabricated some evidence? It's not unreasonable to believe that you may spend a few minutes fabricating evidence to steal a $500 toy.

          If it were something like a stolen car, you'd have a better chance with it, because the car is registered with the state. If you've identified him, file a civil charge against him.

          We had an incident in California, where a friends store was shot up in the middle of the night. We compiled video evidence from the surveillance cameras. He circled the building once before shooting out the front windows. There were distinguishing marks on the vehicle. A couple store employees recognized the vehicle, and identified who the owner was. We went to the guys house, and I shot video of the distinguishing marks on the vehicle and license plate number. I wrote an affidavit stating the evidence discovered, the purpose of making the video of the vehicle, when and where the videos were made, and other details that I personally knew and discovered.

          We provided the videos and affidavit to the police. It got stuck in a pile and ignored. It took about 2 weeks, and multiple calls from the owner of the store to finally get a detective to look at it. When he did review it, he thanked us for handing him the case on a silver platter.

          They cross referenced it with other cases, and found the same caliber weapon was used in other incidents in that area, on the same night.

          With this evidence, they got a search warrant for the guys vehicle and house. When they arrived, he told them everything. He was drunk, and pissed off, so he shot at businesses that he thought had wronged him. He told them where to find the gun, which was under the seat of his vehicle.

          Video evidence of the crime. Identification of the person involved, and vehicle involved, with a few affidavits stating the facts. That's evidence.

          If I just said "Hey, my iPad is in the trunk of his car, go arrest him" isn't evidence. Sure, they could ask him. What's he going to say? "No, that's my iPad." It falls into "unreasonable search and seizure" if they search his car anyways.

          Consider the opposite.

          I know you have an iPad. So I call the police and say you stole my iPad, because I can show the IP belongs to the same provider that yours does, or the GPS signal was last seen in the vicinity of your house. You'd be very upset to have the police knocking on your door, demanding to search the premises for a stolen iPad, and even more so if they seized *your* iPad with some schmuck saying "nope, that's mine".

  • Bias (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DEFFENDER (469046) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:35AM (#39364751)

    And once again we find that it's only true to a government if their own agencies or personnel tell them it's so. A private citizen should be able to produce evidence and have it considered with the same weight as something produced by a policing force. Providing obtaining that evidence didn't violate the law in any way.

    You can bet that if it had been the police that can up with that GPS location they would have a warrant in hand tight now.

    • Not Bias (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tverbeek (457094) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:44AM (#39364897) Homepage

      That's not what this is about at all. The Netherlands is a country that takes its fundamental privacy-from-the-police assurances more seriously than the US does.

    • by Oo.et.oO (6530)

      I have evidence that DEFFENDER produces and distributes meth.

      how's that feel?

      in the article case the evidence in question DOES violate the law. laws for unreasonable search and seizure.
      if only the US were more strict about issuing search warrants, and more restricted when they do...

      in my above example, my statement may fall under freedom of speech. it may also fall under libel. either way it's certainly inadmissible. but that won't matter much if they get a broad warrant and find a gimp tied up in your

  • Hardly a surprise... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:38AM (#39364803)

    The Dutch police doesn't even enter an house when there are two of them and they literally hear someone get tortured to death. I'm not making this up; this actually happened. The officers in front of the house could hear screams and moans and did absolutely nothing.

    Want more? Neighbors heard a woman cry and scream for help and it sounded so distressful that they called the police. The police came, rang the doorbell an after a small talk they left, never to bother with his again. 3 months later it turned out that the woman in question was being held by her will, prostituted, treated in extreme inhumane ways and well... "The police thinks they may have made a mistake by not entering the premices".

    And the list goes on and on.

    On the positive side. If you manage to speed a little on the Dutch highways (you know, reckless driving where you dare to drive 85 - 86 km/hr instead of the allowed 80 km/hr) then chances are very high that you will get a speeding ticket. That's where the Dutch police truly excels.

    So quite frankly, within this context this can hardly come as a surprise.

    • Somewhere between the growing totalitarian hell of the US and UK and the apparently overly-respectful approach of the Dutch... Somewhere, is there a sane country where I can live?

    • Hindsight is 20/20, isn't it?

      They went to that house, found nothing suspicious, and thus nothing to go on with regard to entering the house due to a situation of duress, nor anything to get a warrant for a search.

      Yes, it's horrible what happened to that woman. On the other hand, I don't think it's desirable that if I, and a few neighbors, just call the police saying there's screaming from your house, that the police come busting though your door, guns drawn, only to find you enjoying a cup of coffee - but

  • Funny... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:45AM (#39364907)
    ...they seemed to think it was enough when the iPhone 4 prototype was stolen.
  • by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:35AM (#39365827) Journal

    Something I don't understand --

    > According to the prosecutors, a search warrant is 'a very heavy measure,' that should only be used when there is 'sufficient suspicion.' The theft report by the owner was viewed as 'no objective evidence' in the case."

    So, what *would* be considered objective evidence? Does a law enforcement offer actually have to witness a crime before the authorities will pursue it? So, for instance, I'm robbed on the street, but there's no objective evidence that it happened because the crime was not observed? How does that work in The Netherlands?

  • Search warrant? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SirDice (1548907) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:37AM (#39365857)
    You don't need a search warrant to ring the bloody doorbell and ASK about the stolen property. But even that was too much bother. Funny though, the police had absolutely no problems breaking into my house simply because my downstairs neighbor told the police I was away for a week and my cats were left on their own. I actually was away for 2 days and my parents fed them.
  • by Hentes (2461350) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:55AM (#39366179)

    Having a tracking software on your device is means next to nothing, as there is no way you can prove the police that it really is your device and it really is there. The only thing they have is your word, or maybe isn't even that, because you don't have control over the device anymore: the thief could just as well submit fake data. If this was enough for a search there would be hundreds of ways to misuse it to cause harm to someone, and people here would cry fascism and police brutality. But when there is a shiny Apple device at stake, civil liberties doesn't seem to be that important all of a sudden.

    • by SirGeek (120712) <sirgeek-slashdot ... g ['mrs' in gap]> on Thursday March 15, 2012 @12:10PM (#39366437) Homepage

      Having a tracking software on your device is means next to nothing, as there is no way you can prove the police that it really is your device and it really is there. The only thing they have is your word, or maybe isn't even that, because you don't have control over the device anymore: the thief could just as well submit fake data. If this was enough for a search there would be hundreds of ways to misuse it to cause harm to someone, and people here would cry fascism and police brutality. But when there is a shiny Apple device at stake, civil liberties doesn't seem to be that important all of a sudden.

      I would think that he could get the paperwork showing the serial number of THAT device matches the deivce he purchased, Images of HIM/friends on the phone, etc.

      Sadly, this "too much" effort isn't just for things like this. A few years ago, I had someone illegally use my CC # and make charges. I got the money back but I also had contacted every company where an illegal purchase was made, and finally tracked one that could correlate my home addy to the theif's order. I got their Name, Address, phone, etc.

      When I filed the police report (per my Bank's orders), NOTHING happened. As far as I can tell, this person didn't get arrested and whatever had been shipped to him, he got to keep. (The only good thing was the companies he'd bought from flagged his name if he ordered again).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 15, 2012 @12:02PM (#39366291)

    To put this in a slightly different context, raiding an address because of the location prodived by an app doesn't always work out [thisisnottingham.co.uk]:

    A LANDLORD says he is disgusted after police smashed down the door of his house looking for a burglar – after receiving information from an iPad app. The victim of the burglary had his iPhone stolen, but had software on his iPad that used satellite technology to trace his stolen phone. It pinpointed the phone to the house in Rufford Road, Sherwood. But when officers broke in they found no trace of it or the burglar.

    It then goes on to quote an academic as saying:

    "The apps' accuracy can be impressive. In an urban area the range is roughly 50m. But it cannot pinpoint an iPhone to a specific address in a built up neighbourhood.

    So yeah, just because apps are handy doesn't mean they'll always provide enough evidence to raid somewhere on.

  • by goodmanj (234846) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @12:20PM (#39366637)

    For those playing at home: network tracking and identification isn't enough to even grant a search warrant for theft of physical property, but it's enough evidence to convict in a case of "theft" of intellectual property.

    Double standards much?

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