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Caught tech-handed: The criminals snared by their own stupidity

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, 19 April 2009Recovered iPhones

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Indio Police

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More than 100 stolen iPhones were discovered at a music festival after they were tracked

The US man charged
with his wife’s murder based on data from her Fitbit device shows how
suspects are not only exploiting technology but increasingly being
snared by it too.

Here are some more examples of how technology
has led police to suspects and how criminals have fallen victim to their
own stupidity, ignorance and vanity.

Find my iPhone thief

A thief who stole more than 100 smartphones at a music festival was detained after revellers with iPhones tracked them using an app that comes with the phone.
The Find My iPhone app shows the device’s location on laptops or other devices.
Reinaldo De Jesus Henao, 36, was arrested at the Coachella festival in California earlier this month.

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, 19 April 2009

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Getty Images

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Henao thought the Coachella festival in California would provide easy pickings

Police had already dedicated extra resources to
Coachella after “chatter on social media” about missing iPhones, Sgt Dan
Marshall told tech news site Gizmodo.
Several phones were returned immediately, Indio Police added, while the rest were handed to lost property at the festival site.

Photo finished

In
2011, police in California recovered a stolen laptop after being handed
clues to its whereabouts along with pictures of a suspect thanks to a
stealth software program.
Cab driver Muthanna Aldebashi, 27, was snapped on the Mac device’s built-in camera after he powered it up.

A man identified as Muthanna Aldebashi

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Joshua Kaufman

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Thief Muthanna Aldebashi was identified after the laptop he stole took photos of him

The Mac’s rightful owner Joshua Kaufman, an Oakland
interaction designer, had installed software called Hidden, which
supplies the computer’s location, photographs taken on the Mac’s
internal camera and shots of the Mac’s screen display.
The program immediately began sending Mr Kaufman photographs of a bearded man with shaggy dark hair sleeping on a couch, sitting shirtless on a bed in front of the computer, and driving.

An Apple iPad tablet device at a store in San Francisco, 22 October 2013

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Getty Images

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Software installed on tablet devices can be used to track locations and share pictures

The software also sent Mr Kaufman – who has blogged about the theft
– a screen shot showing the man logging into his own e-mail account –
information investigators later used to lure him into an arrest.

Handing your selfie in

Thieves who steal electronic devices can find themselves literally facing justice simply by using them.
There
have been numerous reports of stolen smartphones and laptops being
recovered after photos taken on devices are automatically uploaded to
the owner’s iCloud account.
In 2015 Randy Schaefer had an iPad, a laptop and some cash stolen from his truck parked in Houston, Texas.
The thieves gloated by taking selfies and recording themselves with their booty.
When checking his iCloud account moments later, Mr Schaefer discovered more than a dozen pictures and video of the suspects – who said they were “just hustling” – with their mouths full of $100 notes.
He uploaded the content and handed the evidence to police, who later arrested the two men, according to local media.

Ahead of the criminals

A
cyclist robbed at gunpoint by three men in South Africa in 2014 caught
the entire episode on a camera strapped to his head – and the thieves
failed to notice.
Malcolm Fox handed over his possessions,
including his smartphone, car keys, designer Oakley sunglasses and bike,
after he was approached by a man with a gun and then “frisked” by
another man with a knife.

A GoPro camera attached to a helmet

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Getty Images

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GoPro cameras are small and light and often used by cyclists to record incidents

However, none of the men seemed to have any idea of
the importance of Mr Fox’s GoPro camera, which they appeared to
investigate and stare at but were uninterested in taking.
Mr Fox, who was approached by the men after taking a wrong turn while cycling in Somerset West, later shared the dramatic footage on YouTube.
The suspects were later arrested and Mr Fox’s mobile phone and bike were returned, according to reports.

Catch me if you can… here!

Twitter
is all about encouraging followers – and that is exactly what happened
when an armed man on the run from police in Chicago began live-tweeting
the chase and posted the location where he was hiding.
Brandon McNeil, 21, was found in a basement by officers who discovered his social media boasts.
“Lol look I just left the police they lookin fa me,” he tweeted during the 2016 chase, adding: “Here’s my hiding spot.”

The Twitter logo is shown on a smartphone

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Getty Images

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Details shared on the social media site Twitter are public – unless protected

McNeil also posted a photo of a gun, police records show, and the location of a home where he had chosen to hide.
He was arrested shortly afterwards when officers contacted the homeowner, police said.

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