Dallas Police Sergeant James Johnson first started playing around with bait cars when he was working on auto theft cases for the DPD. Over the past decade, the department rigged vehicles with GPS tracking devices and set them up to be stolen. His team put out eight cars (at most) across the city, selecting small hotspots at high risk for auto theft.
Johnson would watch the map, wait for the car to start moving and follow it to a home or a chop shop, where his squad would zoom in and make their arrests. Each year, they’d nab about 50 to 60 people; the program is credited with cutting auto theft by 57% since 2014.
Tracking people and objects is a big deal these days.
Police are taking advantage of the “third-party doctrine,” a rule stating that you relinquish your privacy if, for example, you confessed your crimes to a close friend or co-worker and put that info in the hands of a third party. That person would be legally justified if they chose to take it to the police. Now, law enforcement is attempting to use that premise to argue that information gathered by your cellphone provider should constitute a third-party relinquishment, as if Verizon and AT&T were your willfully trusted confidants.
Turn off your phone’s GPS and apps don’t know where you are, but the cell phone company does. Big Brother is tracking you.