Thief steals car, connects to the Bluetooth system, makes calls, gets arrested. Oops!

We have all heard about those “stupid criminal” stories…you know, like the bank robber that writes a “this is a stick up” note on the back of one of his deposit slips.   Well, here’s a good one about a burglar that fell victim to the unintended efficiency of Bluetooth technology.  I read about this case this morning in the Naples Daily News* while taking a breather on beautiful Marco Island.

Buinessman In CarEighteen-year-old Nolan Renwick Thune, a North Naples, Florida resident, was arrested recently for breaking into his friend’s parents’ home while they were away on a weekend family camping trip.  He faces charges of burglary, grand theft, auto theft, probation violation and marijuana possession.

The family returned from their trip to find their lights on, french doors open, and various jewelry and money missing. They also discovered that someone had apparently been driving their car, a Ford Focus, as it contained indications of cigarette smoking and damage to a front tire.  How did the police trace the crime to Thune?  Detectives discovered a different mobile phone had been connected to the car’s Bluetooth system, with calls placed to numbers in the phone’s directory, including “Moms”.  By tracking the phone number identifiable to “Moms”, the detectives figured “Moms” son was the culprit.  Sure enough, Thune was identified and arrested after a traffic stop, at which time he had marijuana in his possession.

Mobile GPS navigation concept. Smartphone on map of the city,I am reminded of other crimes that have been solved through the often invisible and sometimes creepily-effective technology that we forget exists today.  Many years ago a member of our team worked with law enforcement authorities to solve a murder.  The prime suspect was the woman’s husband, but authorities lacked evidence, and the husband denied involvement.  Our expert was able to recreate the husband’s GPS activity on his smartphone, which led authorities to a pond where his wife’s body was later found by divers.  Faced with the overwhelming digital evidence, the husband finally confessed.

The Take-Away
It’s not just about mobile phones…it’s about devices in general.  The “Internet of Things” has enabled us to connect tons of devices to networks, and those devices (like an automobile’s Bluetooth system) are keeping track of what we do.  Remind your clients that they have certain risks associated with this increased connectivity, and remember to target those devices when looking for digital evidence that can be extremely relevant to your next case.