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Nearly Every NYC Crime Involves Computers, Says Manhattan DA 108

Posted by Soulskill
from the most-new-yorkers-are-cyborgs dept.
jjp9999 writes "Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance says cybercrimes are the fastest growing crimes in New York City, and criminals of all types are finding uses for digital tools. The Epoch Times reports that during a Feb. 28 event, Vance said it has reached a point where 'It is rare that a case does not involve some kind of cyber or computer element that we prosecute in our office — whether it is homicide, whether it's financial crime case, whether it's a gang case where the gang members are posting on Facebook where they're going to meet.' He also noted that organized crime groups in New York are shifting their focus to cybercrime, and that many local criminals are working with international hackers."
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Nearly Every NYC Crime Involves Computers, Says Manhattan DA

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  • Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 03, 2013 @09:31AM (#43060699)

    Posting your meeting place on FB gives a crime a "computer element"? I guess in the old days looking through the phone book to pick a pawn shop to rob added a "yellow pages element" to the crime. Most criminals wear a watch to make sure they're "on time" or "on schedule". Better add a Timex division to every police force.

    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by penix1 (722987) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @09:36AM (#43060721) Homepage

      No, what he is saying is that criminals (gangs in the case you are deriding) are using technology such as FB more to organize those crimes. I suspect he is also trying to say that the police and DA offices are having a difficult time keeping up with the advances in technology.

      • Re:Really? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @10:11AM (#43060909)

        The more time passes the more the world starts to look like CP2020, we have out of control corporations pushing around corrupt governments, street gangs getting jobs from fixers, all it needs now is a direct brain interface with the internet and we're there.

        Kinda cool in a way.

        • out of control corporations are why we have such a corrupt government.
          • by CncRobot (2849261)

            Corrupt government soliciting coroporations are why we have out of control corporations.

            • by slick7 (1703596)

              Corrupt government soliciting coroporations are why we have out of control corporations.

              Computers don't cause crime, people cause...oh, wait!

          • FEAR MONGERING (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @12:42PM (#43061753) Homepage Journal

            Fear mongering, to justify warrentless and pervasive "intelligence-gathering". Somehow "regular criminals are using computers to endanger us all!" is expected to resonate.

            The network-connected computer is an incidental and pervasive technology. There is a general level of enablement offered by the technology, to all aspects of society. One of these aspect also happens to be organizing commission of crimes.

            Crime is defined through three elements: Motive, Opportunity and Willingness. The thrust of the argument is that somehow having a computer enhances "opportunity". This requires no greater caution over the technology than landlines, wristwatches or even street lighting.

            The computer is also a passive technology to "intent", like street lighting or automobiles, incidental to the creation of criminal opportunity, as cited by the cops. But there is an insinuation made that the intent aspect is even more heinous, when a computer is introduced as a factor.

            Don't fall for it. Stop feds, stop pigs. Whenever, wherever you can.

      • by lexsird (1208192)

        It sounds like buzzword whoring to soak more budget funds out of the tax payer.

      • by SeaFox (739806)

        I suspect he is also trying to say that the police and DA offices are having a difficult time keeping up with the advances in technology.

        I suspect he's making the case for legislation giving him broader access to online activity inquiries and surveillance without judicial oversight.

        Nothing to see here, just law enforcement asking for their magic network backdoor again. I'm sure the "stop child pornography" argument will be making its appearance soon.

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      That might be useful, if only watches stored evidence. They don't, but computers do.

      The gist of it is that, in investigating a crime, you need to look where the evidence is. More often today, a lot of this evidence is bits on a computing device or stored with an online service. So, police need to be equipped to actually be able to do that and to be able to do it correctly.

    • by sjames (1099)

      Posted to facebook = cybercrime. Had a cellphone on him = cyber crime. Robbing someone with a baseball bat at the ATM = cybercrime, stealing a cellphone = cybercrime. Somehow convincing someone that a legal pad and a pen are the latest in tablet computing and selling the combo for $500 = cybercrime.

      So, it's official. 'cybercrime' no longer carries any useful information, so we can just call it all 'crime' again.

    • by bfandreas (603438)
      The notorious Elouise "Granny" Smith kept an Excel spreadsheet of all the apples she painted green and rendered inedible.
      Joe "Bazooka" Henries bragged on Facebook how much chewing gum he had stolen.
      Elmer "'Lil Gangsta" Pompelfroy tweeted each dodged fare into the world.
      Richard "Lyndon B. Johnson" Nixon had an AMA on Reddit.
      And Bill "Babyface" Gates admitted to jaywalking on IRC

      It doesn't take too much imagination to fit some computerized equipment into any crime. You just wait. It won't be long before
  • In other news... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bhmit1 (2270) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @09:42AM (#43060749) Homepage

    Nearly every crime involves transportation and communication. This is less of a story about how cybercrime is a threat and we should all unplug from the dangerous internet and worry about the next attack on a major utility company. Rather it's a realization that technology is an extension of our lives now, everything is impacted by it, and that's no different for criminals.

    • by ByteSlicer (735276) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @10:32AM (#43060997)

      In other news: Nearly Every NYC Crime Involves Shoes.

      • by Fishchip (1203964)
        And clothes. And the biochemical transformation of air into human-exhaust. Holy crap, crime has its devious fingers in EVERYTHING.
      • by blueg3 (192743)

        And there are forensic specialists that analyze shoeprints at a crime scene. Also fibers left behind by clothing and tire tracks.

        • by nabsltd (1313397)

          And there are forensic specialists that analyze shoeprints at a crime scene. Also fibers left behind by clothing and tire tracks.

          Yes, they do exist, but despite what TV shows try to tell you, nobody checks for shoeprints when someone breaks into your house and steals everything you own. Unless there is some sort of personal injury, they probably won't even check for fingerprints. In the same way, the police likely aren't going to check to see if the crime against you was "announced" on Facebook.

          As others have noted, the whole article is scare tactics to get laws passed to allow police more ability to violate your rights. That's re

      • In other news: Nearly Every NYC Crime Involves Shoes.

        Immediate blockage of the sale of socks will act as a deterrent. Get this out to all TV stations immediately! :>

    • by cellocgw (617879) <cellocgw@NOsPAm.gmail.com> on Sunday March 03, 2013 @10:32AM (#43060999) Journal

      Nearly every crime involves transportation and communication.

      Exactly. (I'm feeling too old this AM to type "This" :-) ) I was going to respond that nearly every crime involved breathing.
      So why is it that so many people over 30 (and I'm waaay over 30) seem incapable of learning new shit? Maybe I'm a serious outlier, like most of us on /. , but I live for the opportunity to learn and adjust.

  • by musterion (305824) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @09:43AM (#43060761)

    Obviously, computers facilitate crime, so we must register them and their users. Think of the income from this that cities like Detriot desperatly need. And while we are at it, no person under 18 should be allowed to have a cellphone wiht a camera. These facilitate "sexting".

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      You laugh, but we could eventually one day have some kind of communications device registration legislation, where comms devices have DRM etc

      • by girlinatrainingbra (2738457) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @01:35PM (#43062205)
        Hey, the East Germans tracked every privately owned typewriter so that they could know who might write or might have written subversive or anti-state material. Considering the twisted theorizing and behaviors the USA govt is currently performing, your comms drm concept may fly yet.
        • by musterion (305824)

          Yeah, Absolutely. We already know about the tiny yellow letter that get printed by many inkjet printers, so the printer can be traced. see : https://www.eff.org/issues/printers

          • Interesting. It's also in color laserprinters according to the EFF site. It appears to be about counterfeiting money and tracking down those who try to print counterfeit bills at home, though it can also be used as an effective tracker system.
    • Obviously, computers facilitate crime, so we must register them and their users. Think of the income from this that cities like Detriot desperatly need. And while we are at it, no person under 18 should be allowed to have a cellphone wiht a camera. These facilitate "sexting".

      Spoken language is also used as a motive, opportunity, and means. Registration of words and recording of all spoken language is required immediately! :>

    • Obviously, the cops in Manhattan should be given iPads and 4G phones, and they should patrol the streets less, and spend more time behind their desk browsing FaceBook, responding to email, looking at Craigslist postings, and watching questionable Youtube videos.

  • by c0lo (1497653) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @09:47AM (#43060777)
    Whatever your taste in crime, there's an app for that.
    • by bfandreas (603438)
      Really? I love taping porcupines to condoms. Yet I find no app for "Popish Plot" on the Windows Store.
      I taught my cat to meow tunes from sound of Music and failed to get a RIAA license for him. Yet I find no "Pirate Cat" app on the Ovi Store.

      Which proves criminals use iThings and Androids almost exclusively. Those bastards!
  • It does go both ways (Score:5, Interesting)

    by transporter_ii (986545) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @09:50AM (#43060791) Homepage

    Last week I noticed some items missing from my front porch. I had installed a couple of game cameras to strategically catch my front door. Went back through and had 4 pictures of the guy taking stuff, and two were quite nice since they are 4 megapixel cameras.

    Pictures got posted on FB (not by me actually, I hate FB) and I had a name for the sheriffs office by the next morning. Even found his FB page so we could compare pictures.

    • by ScentCone (795499)
      Those cheap IR/daytime trail cameras have a million uses. Very handy.
    • Makes a guy wonder. With the advent of cheap web cams and 100' USB cables, how hard would it be to start a cheap home security business? Charge people a one time 400$ fee and tell them their computer has to stay on all the time. The cost of components at most is $100, so you'd get 300$ profit per installation.
    • by tompaulco (629533)

      Last week I noticed some items missing from my front porch. I had installed a couple of game cameras to strategically catch my front door. Went back through and had 4 pictures of the guy taking stuff, and two were quite nice since they are 4 megapixel cameras.

      Pictures got posted on FB (not by me actually, I hate FB) and I had a name for the sheriffs office by the next morning. Even found his FB page so we could compare pictures.

      Wow, they probably had to work overtime just to ignore that evidence, but I'm sure in the end, that is what they did, or maybe put him in jail for a couple of hours and then let him go back out on the street, where you are now his #1 enemy.

  • I'm not sure why crime in NYC is being advertised so much. Is there something magical about that cities crime. Is is the usual Tax or New laws or draconian spying on the *ordinary people*...or something else.

    I'm no expert but last time NYC was trolling with http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-57561160-37/nyc-mayor-blames-theft-of-apple-devices-for-uptick-in-crime/ [cnet.com] Apple iPhone crime, ironically nothing as exciting as international *hacking* related involved in these crimes, that are apparently so frequent the

    • by msk (6205)

      Well, one reason could be that gun-free zones like NYC and Chicago are supposed to be crime-free.

      But they're not. They're worse.

      • by tompaulco (629533)

        Well, one reason could be that gun-free zones like NYC and Chicago are supposed to be crime-free.

        But they're not. They're worse.

        Of course they're worse. The criminals know that nobody in those cities is able to defend themselves. It's a free-for-all.

    • ... and 99% of NYC crime is committed by someone who's had a "super-sized" soda! Thank God the Mayor is on top of things.
  • mail crime! (oooh those kid nappers and their random letters!)
    brick crime! Crimes involving bricks!
    spraypaint crime! (lets just call it graffiti and be specific please!)
    clothing crime!
    THOUGHT CRIME!

    Fuck, just like people can use a car to kill someone, and I know we must be a pedantic race and create "vehicular homicide" why not just call it MURDER.

    My favorite is going to be DRONE crime when its no longer in the hands of only the power elite. RC Terrorists! OMG....

    *caution the above post is pedantic, sarcast

    • Given that cars are used also in getaways and transport to and from a crime scene, it's fair to guess that most crimes do involve a car.

    • mail crime! (oooh those kid nappers and their random letters!)
      brick crime! Crimes involving bricks!
      spraypaint crime! (lets just call it graffiti and be specific please!)
      clothing crime!

      Awesome comment :)

      And, and, and, if we control it all from the outside in, people will be more protected and feel safe, right? Fucking stupid Humans. We will apparently never learn as a whole that the crimes are all driven by childhood development (this includes abuse, rejection, excessive praise, media, food, well fuck, everything).

  • Who is surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ewanm89 (1052822) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @10:09AM (#43060897) Homepage

    While I haven't read the article.

    Today everything in life requires a computer, to take money out of the bank, going up the elevator, walk through the automatic shop doors, the cctv recording every move in the shop, the alarm system, the opening of the cash register. What's more I'm carrying my smart phone, a credit card.... So far in about 5 minutes and I already can't count how many computers have been involved.

    No, the surprising thing is that the idiotic governments see this as any different to a security guard being sat there and manually writing down a list of people passing him, the guy at the cash register maintaining a list of everyone he served at the counter. They need a warrant to take that list, they think just cause it's a computer rather than a human recording the information a warrant can be ignored!

    • by drolli (522659)

      Even looking up the time requires me to use a computer.

      "They used their smartphones to adjust the timing of the crime" could translate to "they did not have other watches"

      • by nabsltd (1313397)

        "They used their smartphones to adjust the timing of the crime" could translate to "they did not have other watches"

        And that they used their smartphones as phones to communicate the changes. Oh, the humanity.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Just saw some tv detective series, I forgot which.

      "We now know why there is no paper trial; he doesn't trust computers, so he wrote everything down."

    • While I agree with the gist of your post, automatic shop doors don't usually have computers attached do them. They use fairly simple circuits that are triggered by changes in the reflected signal. So far, circuits like that are cheaper than a computer, though we're getting to the point where that might stop being true.

      Here's an example [electroschematics.com], though commercial products will usually use a single-chip solution rather than building their own circuit. You can buy those chips for around $.50 these days.

      • by ewanm89 (1052822)

        Okay, so it's a preprogrammed processor then? Though I wouldn't be surprised if there aren't a few that are running on generic AVR or PIC processors. You do know to reprogram ENIAC1 or Colossus they had to rewire them from scratch.

        • If that already counts as computer, where does it stop? Is a light that is switched by two (directly wired) switches a computer because the two switches implement an XOR gate?

        • No. The circuit diagram is not a preprogrammed processor. It's not a processor at all.

          If you stick a processor in a door, you've added a more expensive part that now has to have someone program it before it can be used. You've also gained nothing over your competitors who use a common off-the shelf component that costs far less than what you've designed. Companies that stay in business tend to try to avoid making mistakes like that.

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      They don't. In general, you need a warrant to seize a computer just like you need a warrant to seize anything else. There are currently two major exceptions to this, neither of which is really solidified yet. One is data about you or held on your behalf by a third party. This is murky in the real world, too, but it tends to be less common, whereas digital data held by a third party is very common (e-mail residing on your ISP's servers, for example). The other exception is the search of cell phones when you'

      • by ewanm89 (1052822)

        At the moment, cause they are covered by current laws which apply the same for words on paper as bits on a hard drive. But they keep trying to write a law that exempts it if it is stored on computers.

    • Today everything in life requires a computer, to take money out of the bank, going up the elevator, walk through the automatic shop doors, the cctv recording every move in the shop, the alarm system, the opening of the cash register. What's more I'm carrying my smart phone, a credit card.... So far in about 5 minutes and I already can't count how many computers have been involved.

      No, the surprising thing is that the idiotic governments see this as any different to a security guard being sat there and manually writing down a list of people passing him, the guy at the cash register maintaining a list of everyone he served at the counter. They need a warrant to take that list, they think just cause it's a computer rather than a human recording the information a warrant can be ignored!

      Amen. Awesome comment! :)

      You know, not to take it too far, but another thing that is involved in every crime is the use of oxygen. It's all around in the mix of thoughts and tools!

  • Criminals use any tool at their disposal. Computers are just now another tool in the toolbox. I guess it helps to know the trend.
  • CARS!! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It is rare today to find a crime that doesn't involve an automobile in some way. As a getaway car, the jacked in a carjacking, or as transportation to the airport for those jumping bail, we very rarely see a case cross our desks these days that does not involve a car.

    Therefore, our special car crimes unit needs more money.

    AC

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      Maybe some kind of database that ties state-mandated labels on cars to the vehicle's owner.

    • It is rare today to find a crime that doesn't involve an automobile in some way. As a getaway car, the jacked in a carjacking, or as transportation to the airport for those jumping bail, we very rarely see a case cross our desks these days that does not involve a car.

      Therefore, our special car crimes unit needs more money.

      AC

      Don't fret. Google is developing cars. All activity will be monitored! :-D It's a GoodThing(sm)!

  • Time to outlaw computers and shame "cyber nuts" out of the hobby.

  • by Stirling Newberry (848268) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @11:10AM (#43061197) Homepage Journal
    This anthrocriminal element is taking over I tell you.
    • This anthrocriminal element is taking over I tell you.

      Locate and control all carbon immediately! Parents will feel safe, and society will be more, well....... uh..... Invest!

  • by rmdingler (1955220) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @11:14AM (#43061217)
    Is that they're actually forced by their battle with law enforcement to become more innovative, more adept at their trade if you will, in order to remain free to practice their alternative income schemes. Law enforcement is kept busy with all measure of law breakers. Even the burglar who leaves his wallet behind at the scene of the crime requires an arrest, booking, detective interviews, and prosecution. It has occurred to me that much of law enforcement's time and energy go to plucking low-hanging fruit. Is it any wonder they are losing the battle to adapt technologically?
  • by D4C5CE (578304) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @11:29AM (#43061289)
    ...when every minor misdemeanor or even purely civil matter becomes a federal felony.
    The legal response to progress must not be "harsher punishments for every new generation" to consider computers (including cellphones these days) evil because "even" organized crime uses them, and to treat everyone else (who inevitably has to use them as part of one's daily life as well) like a mobster too - until the whole world becomes a "prison planet". Good to see a DA (possibly unintentionally) acknowledge the real issue in the midst of fearmongering.
    Cf. http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/02/aarons-law-amending-the-cfaa/ [wired.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why, just a couple of weeks ago, someone broke into my car, and stole a laptop!

  • Of course (Score:4, Funny)

    by GrumpySteen (1250194) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @12:59PM (#43061871)

    Arson, assault, bail jumping, bigamy, breaking and entering, bribing a police officer, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, cemetery desecration, child abandonment, child abuse, contempt of court, discharging a firearm within city limits, disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, domestic violence, drug possession, drunk driving, failure to pay child support, incest, indecent exposure, improper disposal of hazardous waste (like contaminated needles), kidnapping, loitering, obstruction of justice, perjury, possessing lockpicks, probation violation, public intoxication, rioting, shoplifting, tampering with a consumer product, trespassing, vandalism, vehicular assault, violating an open container law.

    Clearly it all involves computers!

  • by Nyder (754090) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @01:30PM (#43062171) Journal

    What do they expect? They make it so you don't have to get warrents to tap someone phoneline, so no point in using old technology when you can get better protection with new technology.

    Was it a shock when bank robbers stopped using horses and started to use cars to get away?

    Was it a shock when robbers stopped using knifes and went with a gun?

    Is it a shock that a politician doesn't understand how life works?

    • The point of requiring warrants to do wire tapping is not to protect the right of criminals to get away with crimes. It's to protect the rest of us from officials abusing their power....

  • Some guy tried to shank me with a RAZR.
  • In an earlier day, I'm sure pretty much the same could have been said of telephones and telephone books, and before that libraries, or even public roads and streets. If it's societal infrastructure and it's used to contact/connect with other people or access information, it's gonna be used A LOT in the commission of crimes.

    I'm all for foiling identity thieves and the like, and I realize that cybercrime is a real threat to all of us. However this story should also be recognized as one that serves the best in

  • "All crime is committed by the living. The punishment is death."
  • That's Cyrus Vance Jr. Cyrus Vance (Secretary of State under Carter) died in 2002.

  • ... for background checks for computer buyers, banning Assault Computers, and hard drives than hold more than 7 GB of storage.
  • This means Bloomberg is going to ban computers next.

  • From the summary, it sounds as though what they mean is that nearly every NYC *prosecution* involves computer-based *evidence*.

    That's very different from saying that every *crime* (i.e. criminal act) involves computers.

    I'd bet that there aren't too many people being murdered by Macbook Pros as blunt force objects.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday March 04, 2013 @07:54AM (#43066313) Homepage
    If you find yourself accused of a felony, expect to have seized everything that you own or are likely to have touched that has or might have any memory in it. You'll get it back on the 32nd of Nevember.
  • I'm sure 90% of the crimes for the last 50 years involved a telephone. Meaningless statistic. The flatfeet are more aware of the "computer related" crime because they are not well equipped to deal with them. It's clear that there are too many laws. 100% of the crimes they deal with involve laws. Get rid of 50% of the laws and crime rates will plummet.

Murphy's Law, that brash proletarian restatement of Godel's Theorem. -- Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow"

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