Archives for the category: SMS used by the Police
April 24, 2013
The Boston Marathon bombing investigation made use of crowdsourcing to collect photos and video from cell phones and surveillance cameras at an unprecedented level. These pictures were made public a little more than 72 hours after the explosions and the second suspect was arrested 29 hours later. CNN reports.
Forensics is the use of scientific or technical information to answer questions in a court of law. Digital forensics is the branch that focuses on the identification, acquisition and analysis of information found on digital devices: computers, cell phones, digital cameras or any computer-based system.
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January 14, 2013
Prepaid mobile phones and websites are changing the nature of illegal sex trafficking in the United States. FastCo.EXIST reports.
... Underage sex traffickers use throwaway phones slightly differently than drug dealers, another criminal subculture known for using them. The USC report noted that inexpensive smartphones are frequently used in order to utilize geotracking apps that keep tabs on the whereabouts of sex workers. Rather than relying on the voice and SMS text message portions of things, data plays an integral role in the use of mobile phones in child trafficking.
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April 3, 2012
Many law enforcement agencies across the U.S. track mobile phones as part of investigations, but only a minority ask for court-ordered warrants, according to a new report released Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) via PCWorld.
More than 90 law enforcement agencies said they track mobile phones during investigations, but only six of those agencies reported receiving court-approved warrants after demonstrating that there's probable cause of a crime, according to an ACLU report based on public information requests filed by the group last year.
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Related: - Map of US police departments that track cell-phone use without a warrant via boingboing.
April 1, 2012
According to The New York Times, law enforcement tracking of cellphones, once the province mainly of federal agents, has become a powerful and widely used surveillance tool for local police officials, with hundreds of departments, large and small, often using it aggressively with little or no court oversight, documents show.
The practice has become big business for cellphone companies, too, with a handful of carriers marketing a catalog of “surveillance fees” to police departments to determine a suspect’s location, trace phone calls and texts or provide other services. Some departments log dozens of traces a month for both emergencies and routine investigations.
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January 22, 2012
According to The Times of India, 90% of the cases in one city are solved using forensic information derived from cell phones. Call data records, or CDR, obtained from cell phones is one of the most important tools Indian law enforcement deploys these days. Law Enforcement Today reports.
Almost everyone uses a cellphone these days. And these are very good tools to track a criminal, even when he or she is on the move," said a police official. Fixed landline phones might provide important data regarding an ongoing case, but cellphone records, on the other hand, prove to be not just the decisive indicators of a person's location, but important evidence for impeachment in many cases.
Read full article.
January 4, 2012
This is a strange article from Tom's Guide, claiming Germany's federal police authorities use silent SMS as a tracking method.
German authorities apparently use silent SMS to create a movement profile of suspects or locate their position. SMS pings are received by a cellphone, but the user will not be notified of it. However, the cellphone carrier will record the data in a log, which can be requested by the government. While the data do not provide information about the phone, they do deliver location data via the cell towers that were used when the silent SMS was sent.
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September 13, 2011
The Jakata Globe reports that Maluku Police sent thousands of text messages on Tuesday appealing for calm in the aftermath of sectarian violence in Ambon (the capital of Maluku province of Indonesia) that left at least five people dead and 89 injured over the weekend.
The SMS urged residents to calm down and not be easily provoked by inflammatory text messages.
Read full article.
January 4, 2011
People in the thousands have registered for the police’s text messaging service, launched in North Zealand police district (located north of Copenhagen) last November. More than 5,000 citizens are now ready to help the police solve crimes by use of their phones, reports the Copenhagen Post Online.
We’re absolutely delighted with the support for our initiative,” Lisbeth Jessen of the North Zealand Police told local news website lokalavisen.dk.
Red full post.
December 10, 2010
An interesting release from Dr Pieter Streicher, MD at BulkSMS.com on the role of cell phones and SMS in preventing crime, enforcing the law and its legal standing.
The high-profile Glenn Agliotti case has once again highlighted the role cell phones and SMS unsurprisingly play in the law. In this case, Clinton Nassif’s cell phone records were subpoenaed by the court from Vodacom and the times of calls and messages were used to show that the former security consultant had lied in previous testimony about his communication with Agliotti.
Read full text.
November 15, 2010
Police officers have been given a set of 16 numerical codes that correspond to buttons on their handset. By inputting the correct combination of digits, they can report their location and whether they are issuing a warrant, making an arrest, on a meal break or returning to base. The information is automatically fed into the control room computer. In an emergency, they can summon help in the normal way. But if they are involved in a routine procedure, they have been told to use the messaging facility instead.
April 16, 2010
Text messaging has become a crime-fighting tool for India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). TMCnet.com reports.
The CBI has launched a campaign through which it is urging India’s populace to report, via text messages, government corruption. The idea, as one source described it, is about “putting the fear of getting caught” into those government officials involved in corruption. While it can take years to get a conviction, says a former CBI official, the texting campaign is helping to build a database of officials who need to be watched.
July 19, 2009
More than 100 Police Department and law enforcement agencies accross the nation accept anonymous tips by text message, reports The Chicago Tribune.
... Authorities stress that emergencies should be reported by calling 911, but from Boston to Los Angeles, police departments and other agencies have begun taking tips via text message.
March 2, 2009
Victoria Police have taken the unprecedented step of sending a text message to every mobile phone in the state, warning of extreme weather conditions on Monday night and Tuesday, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. The text message read:
Msg from Vic Police: Extreme weather in Vic expected Mon night & Tues. High wind & fire risk. Listen to local ABC Radio for emergency updates. Do not reply to this.
January 19, 2009
In a scheme that from a distance sounds like innocent people could get hurt from ill intended denunciations, a police campaign targeting people living lavish lifestyles has begun in Sussex. The premise is to catch people who live on the proceeds of crime and money laundering. The BBC reports.
Crimestoppers and Sussex Police joined forces for the campaign called "Too Much Bling, Give Us a Ring".
November 2, 2008
D.C. police have launched a citywide text messaging system to alert residents about crimes soon after they occur and ask for their help, reports The Washington Post.
The system, known as D.C. Police Alert, offers a short recap of the crime, a description of the suspect and instructions to call 911 if they see anyone matching the description.
September 8, 2008
Text and instant messaging may soon cease to be an anonymous method of communication as advances in forensic linguistic research make it possible to identify the sender and also predict the gender and age of the author with some degree of success. Cellular News reports.
"At the UK's BA Festival of Science, Dr Tim Grant, the Deputy Director of the Centre for Forensic Linguistics at Aston University, describes how language analysis is increasingly playing a key part during police investigations and court cases to help identify the author of incriminating material, whether it be a threatening note, documents planning a terrorist attack or a sexually explicit chat room conversation involving an adult and a child.
... Linguistic evidence demonstrating who sent a particular text message has been significant in a growing number of cases where criminals have attempted to use them as alibis. These include difficult murder cases where victims’ bodies were never found, such as the recent prosecution of David Hodgson, who was convicted in February of the murder of his ex-lover Jenny Nicholl."
... Dr Grant has put together a database of more than 7000 texts as part of his research into text messaging style and variation between individuals and groups of individuals. The public can contribute to his ongoing research by submitting text samples to www.forensiclinguistics.net/texting. His study seeks to establish base rate information for certain features in texting language, and will also highlight how groups of people who text one another frequently grow more similar in their texting style."
May 2, 2008
If you were to witness a crime, but didn’t want to ‘get involved’, a new SMS service could make it easy for you to help the police without revealing your identity.
The anonymity is two way, so if the police want to ask for further details they can ony do so by using the service in reverse.
Unlike so-called ‘Zero Knowledge’ authentication systems, presumably there is some record connecting your phone number to a particular tip so that the reverse contact can take place. Even if the facilitating company promises to keep this information secure, it may be possible that a court order could force it to be revealed.
TipSoft SMS is to be rolled out in the USA later this year and may reach the UK soon after.
[reBlogged from Pocket Picks]
February 26, 2008
The British police is tapping Information Technology to connect better with their neighborhood, reports All Headline News.
"Under a $639 million plan, the method of policing will adapt a more local approach. All households in England and Wales will receive a mobile phone number and email address for police assistance.
The plan, to be effective April, will also require police heads to conduct regular public meetings. The new system is under pilot testing at Lambeth, south London."
January 14, 2008
Police and prosecutors in rape cases are set to experiment with controversial techniques designed to make suspects incriminate themselves through phone calls or text messages. The Guardian reports.
"The tactic, used by investigators in the United States, involves women sending texts or making calls to their alleged attackers to see if they can extract an admission of guilt.
Lawyers and detectives believe the approach could be vital in helping to boost the stubbornly low rape conviction rate in England and Wales, where barely 6% of cases reported to police end in conviction.
"Police get the victim to send a text saying something like 'how could you do that to me?'" said a senior CPS source. "They sometimes get a text back saying 'I'm really sorry, I know I was out of order, it won't happen again' or something like that."
The so-called "pretext" phone call, which is lawful in some US states but not in others, is considered one of the strongest tools in the armoury of the rape investigator. It is widely used in the typical rape case where juries are reluctant to convict, those in which the man and woman know each other and the evidence comes down to his word against hers."
[via SMS Text News]
January 3, 2008
Liberia's government has started giving away specially programmed mobile phones to villages so that they can report crimes to the local police. Cellular News reports.
"The government project aims to give up to 10 phones to prominent people in each of 400 neighborhoods in and around the capital city, Monrovia.
The phones are pre-programmed to call the police for free - while commercial networks charge for such phone calls. "
December 17, 2007
I'm not sure why this beats the simple paper bags Sara Sidle et al use on CSI:, where found evidence is sealed and labeled, but a company called Disklabs has come up with a Phone-Shield with a faraday window "to ensure that data on a suspect’s mobile phone can be investigated without that data being compromised when the phone connects to its relevant network.
Phone-Shield successfully keeps suspects’ mobile phones secure from any incoming communications from the networks at the point of police capture, irrespective of the type of phone, frequency or network. "
More on mobile forensic techniques.
September 20, 2007
Shoppers in Seaham and Peterlee will be among the first in the UK to benefit from text messages aimed at beating crime, according to the Sunderland Echo.
"Durham Police will send text messages warning people about the dangers of leaving valuables on show in cars, urge shoppers to ensure their purse or wallet is kept safe and appeal for help to find missing people.
A sending device would be activated in the town centres to send messages to all mobile phones with Bluetooth technology within 10 metres."
August 24, 2007
We read about these projects, but it's good to hear actual feedback. Boston police say their new plan to use text messaging to make streets safer is now paying off in a big way, reports The Boston Channel.
"Officials told the Boston Herald that police have received 230 crime tip text messages since June. That's compared to only about 10 telephone tips per month.
-- Police said they received a text message just minutes after the stabbing death of Adam Rich, 26, at the Six House bar in South Boston back in June. The suspect in that case is now awaiting trial.
-- Police are also crediting a texted tip with helping them get to the bottom of the case in the shooting death of Laquarrie Jefferson, 8, whose mother initially said her son was killed in a home invasion. A text message to police, however, soon revealed that the real shooter in the accident was the child's 8-year-old cousin.
-- The texting program has also helped police crack down on a number of drug rings. To text police, callers only have to text the word "tip" and then C-R-I-M-E, which is 2-7-4-6-3."
June 15, 2007
In collaboration with the City of Boston and the Boston Police Department, Hill|Holliday, a communication agency, have announced the unveiling of an anonymous text message tip line for law enforcement in Boston. This is the first such initiative in the United States.
In a press conference held today, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis unveiled the major initiative to revitalize the city’s anonymous crime tip hotline.
The tip hotline program, called Crime Stoppers, is being enhanced by enabling citizens to text message an anonymous tip to police. In addition, the program will be promoted to Bostonians though a targeted pro bono advertising campaign. Boston is the first city in the nation to give it citizens the ability to submit an anonymous tip from their mobile phone via text messaging." Press release
Similar hotlines around the world:
-- The Netherlands Dutch police start SMS-alert service
April 25, 2007
a href="http://www.police.uk">police.ukPolice Portal, a system which hosted Suffolk's Police Direct Service cost £5.1million ($10.2million) to run last year. An on-line petition has been created to remove the costly service. The Evening Star reports.
"The service provided an on-line crime reporting system in Suffolk as well as Police Direct messaging service which sent crime and appeal information via text message and e-mail to about 25,000 subscribers."
For all 53 police forces in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. police.ukPolice Portal consists of a web presence, online non-emergency crime reporting system and a public messaging system which makes use of inbound and outbound sms/mms and telephony capabilities."
February 12, 2007
Textually has picked up on these kind of stories before, I find them so interesting, how forensic science is developping new tools to investigate cell phone data - even when deleted - and solve crimes. There's an interesting piece in The Register today.
"The latest version of the top computer forensics package will be the first to include a mobile phone component. The move signals how vital mobile data has become to many prosecutions.
... A police source told us: "It's [a suspect's mobile phone] one of the first things we look for in serious crimes these days."
Brian Karney, Guidance's product management director, told El Reg: "Your whole life's on there. Everything about you. The SIM card, the memory, it's all in there and we can go in and get." The package allows access to call logs, stored files, SIM information, JAVA programs, and crucially, deleted data."
-- Fighting Crime With Cellphones' Clues Extracting clues and leads from mobile electronics is no cakewalk.
--Digital evidence is increasingly crucial to criminal investigations - Cell phones have become the new "smoking gun" for prosecutors and police in the Twin Cities and around the world.
-- UK police making Gil Grissom jealous... - The Forensic Science Service (FSS) has developed a mobile laboratory which will travel to crime scenes and carry out real-time forensic investigation and analysis.
-- The field of Cell Phone Forensics - Modern detectives are now using cell phone forensics to capture more and more criminals.
-- Police turn forensic skills on handhelds - Handhelds are likelier to lead to handcuffs for techie criminals following the release of a report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
-- Mobile phone forensics 'hole' reported - Police investigations are being hindered by the use of proprietary mobile phone technologies, say forensics experts
November 15, 2006
"Joo Ah-young, a 15-year-old with a mental handicap, was separated from her parents on an outing, and was missing for 15 days before the police decided to take another approach to the search.
An SMS message with her photo was sent to people in Seoul and Gyeonggi province. Two days after the message was sent, a call came to the police from a security guard of a shopping mall in Dongdaemun, saying that he had found Ms. Joo.
... Similar to child-finding services, there is also a mobile broadcasting service to find lost senile elderly citizens."
September 30, 2006
A man was arrested after a 17-year-old Cape Cod boy he met on MySpace.com sent a text message to his family back home claiming he was being held against his will on the man's west Georgia farm, police said, reports the Associated Press.
"When the boy was left unattended after several hours in the home, he was able to send a text message from his cell phone to his family in Bourne asking for help and giving his address, Massie said. The family told the local police in Bourne, who notified Troup County authorities.
Massie refused to disclose what exactly the boy's text message said, adding that the information was evidence. He said police are also analyzing computers from Williams' home that were seized."
Similar story: - Text Messaging saves kidnapped girl
September 28, 2006
UK crime victims are being urged to summon police help by sending them a text message, according to The Sun.
"Cops hope the alternative to dialling 999 will appeal to younger people — and be of practical help to the hard of hearing.
The idea is being tried out by Essex Police and the number will be released later. But the force stressed that 999 should still be used if possible.
Some detectives criticised the text move, fearing it will cause delays and possible dangers."
September 6, 2006
UK scientists say their new system for checking fingerprints is having a big impact in the fight against crime. The BBC reports.
"Six police forces are now using the technology, which relies on new compression techniques to transmit digital prints over mobile phones. Professor Nigel Allinson from Sheffield University said matches could now be made within hours as opposed to days."