There have been some interesting stories about how GPS tracking systems needed to “see the sky.” And there have been plenty of idiots who have simply placed the tracker on the roof of the car. In that case finding the tracker is simple. In more sophisticated and therefore challenging locating exercises, it can take several hours for mechanics to find the device, especially when they are mounted behind the dashboard. Under the dash seems to be the most common place to stash devices if you have access to the inside of the car. If the car is locked or the car is targeted by law enforcement, the device may be simply stuck to the bottom of the car.
Some devices are battery operated and have a short amount of time that they can transmit a signal. Others will be hard wired to the car battery with virtually unlimited transmission time.
Older GPS Tracking Devices are passive. Passive devices store data but don’t transmit it. The device must be retrieved and the data read to determine where someone has been. These devices are becoming less common.
Everyone now wants real-time data. Active devices can transmit the location of a person or vehicle instantaneously. These devices can run off of battery for a few days or, if hardwired to the car’s electrical system, run perpetually tracking the vehicle wherever it goes.
There are also companies that supply detectors such as Spy-Nexus and BrickHouse Security. Interestingly BrickHouse Security sells both trackers and detectors. These GPS detectors rely on finding the signal from the transmitting device. This signal is generally a cell phone signal transmitting all the time. More sophisticated devices only transmit while the vehicle is moving making detection on a stationary vehicle impossible with a detector.
Another company, Insignia available from Best Buy, had a device called the “Little Buddy Tracker” which was a “Child Tracking Solution For Paranoid Parents”. This device has been discontinued but a replacement by Garmin is a good replacement. These devices, slipped into a kid’s back pack allows for real-time tracking of the child or at least their backpack.
And then there is cell phone tracking… but that will have to wait for our next issue.
While spy technology may provide great evidence, many judges refuse to admit the evidence if gleaned by illegal means. Before purchasing or implementing any spy equipment, we recommend a conversation with an attorney concerning the legality of the use of spy technology in your state or jurisdiction.
Unfortunately, however, these GPS devices are frequently installed and used before any such conversations take place.
By Scott Greene
Electronic Evidence Expert Witness
Evidence Solutions, Inc.
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