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Crime Technology

Robbery Suspect Tracked By GPS and Killed 450

Posted by Soulskill
from the modern-crime-fighting dept.
New submitter Lew Lorton notes a NY Times story about a thief in New York City who was tracked and located using a GPS device inside a decoy pill bottle he had stolen (along with other pill bottles) from a pharmacy. When police confronted the thief, he raised a gun to shoot at an officer, and was killed "The decoy bottles were introduced last year by the police commissioner at the time, Raymond W. Kelly, who announced that the department would begin to stock pharmacy shelves with decoy bottles of painkillers containing GPS devices. The initiative was in response to a sharp increase of armed and often deadly pharmacy robberies across the state, frequently by people addicted to painkillers. ... The bottles are designed to be weighted and to rattle when shaken, so a thief does not initially realize they do not contain pills. Each of the decoy bottles sits atop a special base, and when the bottle is lifted from the base, it begins to emit a tracking signal."
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Robbery Suspect Tracked By GPS and Killed

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  • by retchdog (1319261) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @12:52PM (#47026521) Journal

    [n/t]

    • by ganjadude (952775)
      exactly. Now that they have played their card, criminals will simply line the bags as to block the GPS signal, its not that hard to do
      • by nurb432 (527695)

        Most are not that smart.

        This needs to be advertised tho, so criminals know they are at a higher risk of getting caught.

  • by weave (48069) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @12:52PM (#47026525) Journal

    OK let's get this out of the way...

    He didn't deserve to die for stealing the pills... ... but soon as he chose to put the life of an officer in danger instead of surrendering, then he did.

    • But, but... society forced him to steal the pills and carry a gun!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Not exactly. If he had succeeded in killing the cop, and was later arrested, he would probably have been sentenced to life in prison.

      The officer killed him in self defense. Although the officer's actions were justified, self defense is not the normal justice system. If he had gone through a normal trial, for commiting a single murder, his punishment would have been different.

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        cop killing for some reason is considered 1st degree murder, and can carry the death penalty
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      He didn't deserve to die for stealing the pills... ... but soon as he chose to put the life of an officer in danger instead of surrendering, then he did.

      No, he didn't deserve to die for that, either.

      What he would've deserved for that is a fair and impartial trial, with a verdict handed down in accordance with the law, and, if found guilty, a fair sentence (which, depending on your opinion on such matters, might include the death penalty).

      The officer who killed him, meanwhile, acted in self-defense. And that's nothing one could blame him for, but to say that the robber deserved to die is a very, very different thing.

      • What he would've deserved for that is a fair and impartial trial, with a verdict handed down in accordance with the law, and, if found guilty, a fair sentence (which, depending on your opinion on such matters, might include the death penalty).

        And yet get ready for the chorus of people who will say we should have just had a hunter-killer drone in the sky to take this guy out rather than endanger the lives of officers.

        A chorus of voters.

        • It depends on how you define 'deserve'. If you define it as getting the appropriate & expected result of one's actions, then I'd say he deserved it, as you should expect to get killed if you raise a gun at a cop. If by deserve you mean he got an appropriate punishment for his action, then I'd say he didn't deserve it.
      • by ooshna (1654125)

        If a criminal points a gun at an officer they are pretty much waving their rights to a trial, hell they are waving their rights to live at that point. Police officers deal will dangerous people everyday and every year police officers die in the line of duty. If I was a cop I wouldn't think twice at shooting someone pointing a gun at me. At that point is it really worth risking the chance that the other person is just bluffing?

    • by dcollins (135727) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @01:48PM (#47026857) Homepage

      "police officials said"

      And police never gun down unthreatening people, and never lie about it afterward. Just sayin': you can't have anywhere close to 100% confidence about these cases.

      If I was on a jury I'd need video corroboration before believing anything asserted by police.

      • by rk (6314) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @02:02PM (#47026937) Journal

        Well, in the US anyways, we have this concept called "innocent until proven guilty*" and that cuts both ways. Believe me, I'm no fan of the direction of modern "law enforcement" with its increasingly paramilitary outlook, and I don't trust the police** much at all. But on a jury? If there's no evidence they're lying, you shouldn't convict because they might be lying.

        * - I know. I've been on enough juries to know this is laughable in the real world. If I'm ever accused of a crime, I will waive my right to jury trial unless I'm going for the hail mary of jury nullification.

        ** - but I don't trust organizations of any kind. YMMV. I trust in individuals, and there are a couple cops out there who have earned it from me.

  • Interesting concept (Score:4, Interesting)

    by scottbomb (1290580) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @12:55PM (#47026547) Journal

    The usual story burglary victims hear is that they'll likely never get their stuff back. I can install a GPS transmitter inside one of my computers or my guitar. As a ham radio operator, I can use APRS which is trackable almost anywhere. Very interesting.

    • I can install a GPS transmitter inside one of my computers or my guitar. As a ham radio operator, I can use APRS which is trackable almost anywhere.

      And they've already got it [thetileapp.com].

      • by Animats (122034)

        And they've already got it.

        No, that's an ad for "Tile". Range 50 to 150 feet to nearest iPhone with the Tile app. Lifespan of one year.

        It's another one of those "preorder" scams - pay now, get delivery someday, maybe. "With your help, 49,586 backers preordered Tiles totaling $2,681,297." They're vague about how many were actually delivered.

      • by AaronW (33736)

        I alreay use a product called Stick'n'Find. It's like Tile except it has a user-replacable battery and is available now. It also supports Android. It also provides a SDK and will sense temperature.

    • The usual story burglary victims hear is that they'll likely never get their stuff back. I can install a GPS transmitter inside one of my computers or my guitar.

      You still won't get it back. The police will file a report and put the report in storage.

      Unless you have a lawyer write a letter to the police. Then they will act quickly to find it.

    • by dcollins (135727)

      But none of that stuff counts as "drug war", so it's still not a priority and the cops still won't get it back for you. This has been demonstrated many times already with phone and laptop tracking apps.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Even today a GPS tracker is not trivial tech though, the sort of thing a consumer might want to buy. It needs a good battery, probably lithium. It needs a modem so it connect to the cell network and transmit its position periodically. To save the battery it might do that once a day, and the battery might last six months if it is a nice big D cell. Unfortunately lithium D cells have a lot of restrictions on them (e.g. for transportation. It needs a server to receive the location data too.

      So really a GPS trac

  • by Lisias (447563) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @12:57PM (#47026559) Homepage Journal

    The thief was killed because he raised a gun to an officer, not because he was tracked down by GPS.

    Can we mod a submission as "-1 TROLL"?

    • by evilviper (135110)

      And here I thought it was saying GPS has a "kill all humans" function.

      Or perhaps, much like radioactive exposure, the act of tracking someone with GPS, kills THEM!

      • And here I thought it was saying GPS has a "kill all humans" function.

        It does - but your phone has to be jailbroken before you can access it.

    • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Saturday May 17, 2014 @01:12PM (#47026661)

      It's the headline the NYT used... As is normal, the "story submission" is straight cut-and-paste.

    • by bitt3n (941736)

      The thief was killed because he raised a gun to an officer, not because he was tracked down by GPS.

      Can we mod a submission as "-1 TROLL"?

      I look forward to next week's headline "Robbery Suspect Noticed Wearing Hawaiian Shirt and Killed"

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by m00sh (2538182)

      The thief was killed because he raised a gun to an officer, not because he was tracked down by GPS.

      Can we mod a submission as "-1 TROLL"?

      After the police kill someone, they will always say the suspect raised a gun at an officer or tried to use some other deadly force.

      The point is that the police knew where he was and he didn't know that the police knew. Instead of dealing with the situation where nobody gets hurt, the police decided to just kill the guy. Maybe he was in traffic driving and the police didn't want to risk a deadly chase.

      What if in the future, a robber takes the GPS and then throws it in some other person's car. What if the

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Improv (2467)

        Police do a necessary and often thankless job at high risk to themselves. If a policeman needs to arrest you, it's best not to make them feel unsafe.

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        well if someone threw the GPS in my car, just a guess, but i dont think the first thing id do is pull a gun on them
    • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @01:54PM (#47026899)
      It gets better - in the sidebar, I've see two submissions like this: "New functionality at Google Maps" ... "Robbery Suspect Tracked by GPS and Killed". ;-)
    • by houghi (78078)

      As the police never lies about these kind of things, I am sure that is what happend and not just some trigger happy police officer.

    • by Thruen (753567)
      Agreed. With the recent headline about people using "Find my iPhone" to track down criminals, this headline made me immediately think somebody had their phone stolen so they loaded up their gun and went criminal hunting. Headline should read, "Police act reasonably, suspect not so much."
  • People are becoming addicted to prescription painkillers. They cannot just buy these products. Therefore they (or others) have to rob them. Men worry about "erectile disfunction" because of advertising. Robbers steal the same products that are advertised for this. Guns are widely available in the US. Guns are used to commit these robberies. Police shoot the suspect because he's carrying a gun.

    The decoy pill bottle is just a symptom in all this.

    • by russotto (537200)

      Yeah, meanwhile I'm sitting here on a bunch of broken bones, carefully rationing my painkillers because if I ask for more I'll be put on the DEA drug-seekers list and be dispensed nothing stronger than acetaminophen for the rest of my life. (NSAIDs are contraindicated for broken bones, BTW

      Drug laws suck. Still doesn't mean armed robbers ought to be excused, particularly armed robbers dumb enough to pull a gun on the cops.

      • by fnj (64210)

        Yes. Absolute zip to do with the Darwin award for drawing down on a cop, but prohibition is just as stupid today as it was in 1920-33. Stupid as in none of anybody's fucking business what someone puts in their own body - liquor, funny kind of smoke, or drugs. THe ones who deserve to be kicked and stoned to death are the oh-so-superior thug assholes who champion prohibition.

  • Now there's... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MitchDev (2526834)

    ... a use GPS devices I can support.

  • by recharged95 (782975) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @01:03PM (#47026589) Journal

    The pill bottle is an example of the coming Internet or things.

    Much like drones and big data, there's lots of policy to abuse, and much ethics to be discussed... Much like the last boom with wireless and content (rights management).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2014 @01:10PM (#47026641)
    For all you statists here who want to government to decide what you can and can't put into your own body, I hope you're happy. This high-speed chase and shooting wouldn't have happened without the ridiculous requirement to have a prescription for certain things people willingly choose to ingest.
    • by fnj (64210) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @01:33PM (#47026763)

      Completely aside from the most basic human right of all - dominion over your own body - you would think anyone with a functioning brain would have learned from Prohibition, but scum-sucking power freaks and those who countenance and support them will never get it.

      • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Saturday May 17, 2014 @01:52PM (#47026881) Homepage Journal

        you would think anyone with a functioning brain would have learned from Prohibition

        Oh, they learned it well. They learned about how many cops they could hire, how big of a buracracy they need, how many prisons are built and staffed, how the power balance turns against the "citizens" (and, amazingly, they even get other "citizens" to cheer them on) and how much easier it is to go after people for other prosecutions once you nail them for a vice.

        The brain malfunction is among the people who don't see this as a War on the People.

  • ... the criminals are not aware of what is being done. Good job NYT for letting the cat out of the bag.
    • the criminals are not aware of what is being done. Good job NYT for letting the cat out of the bag.

      True. This is a technology that gets less useful the more it is used. Even if you're an idiot crook, you don't have to be a genius to understand when your crook buddy says, "Hey, I got popped for taking the drugs that are on the special holder. Don't take those."

    • Good job NYT for letting the cat out of the bag.

      Of course you realize it was an unauthorized NYPD official who let the cat out of the bag, and not the NYT, right?

      The decoy bottle was among a cache of drugs taken in an armed robbery about 1:30 p.m. from HealthSource Pharmacy, at Second Avenue and East 68th Street, according to a police official, who was not authorized to speak about the investigation.

  • It would have been far better if a drone had gunned him down. That way the cop would not have been at risk.
  • Nothing more to add than that.

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