As GPS devices have become smaller, less expensive and more accurate, police have come up with some creative ways to hide them in everyday objects to track people in real-time.
Police are hiding small GPS devices in bundles of cash, prescription pill bottles and other objects to track and catch would-be thieves and criminal suspects.
Police claim that hiding GPS devices in objects that criminals target for theft has helped them find and catch bank thieves, drug dealers and other criminals across the country.
Recently in Nassau County, NY, police hid small GPS tracking devices in stacks of cash to catch an armed thief, who is believed to have killed a store clerk and robbed almost a dozen convenience stores and gas stations.
The crime spree lasted for months before the GPS tracking devices were used to catch the alleged criminal. It is likely that the robberies and shootings would have continued had the police not tracked the stacks of stolen cash with small, hidden GPS trackers.
Predictably, the use of GPS trackers has raised the alarm levels of privacy advocates and civil liberties groups, who worry that this covert tracking of people is further eroding privacy rights and civil liberties.
In addition, legal scholars wonder how the evidence and arrests from hidden GPS tracking will hold up in court.
The United States Supreme Court narrowly decided in 2012 that it was constitutional for police to track a suspect’s location using GPS devices attached to their vehicle, even in some cases where a warrant was not obtained first.
However, that Supreme Court ruling did not deal with the issue of tracking criminal suspects who steal objects that have had GPS tracking devices hidden in them beforehand.
Courts have typically sided with police who arrest a suspect for stealing things that have tracking technology installed in them. Police have been arresting car thieves for years by using bait vehicles with tracking devices on them.
As GPS technology has shrunk in size, the possible uses for this technology by police has grown. GPS tracking devices have gotten so small that they can easily be hidden in a few dozen bills.
Pharmacies and drug companies are now starting to use “bait bottles” of prescription medicine to track drug thieves. If a robber demands drugs, the pharmacist hands the thief one or more bait bottles that can track his locations once he leaves the drugstore.
The use of these bait bottles has helped police arrest hundreds of drug thieves in dozens of states.
Police have also used hidden GPS tracking to catch bicycle thieves and computer thieves.
As tracking technology becomes even smaller and cheaper to use, who knows what kinds of robberies and other crimes will be solved by the police who use it.