• Oct 23rd 2013 at 3:00PM
  • 279
Reddit user found GPS tracker on his car during routine... Reddit user found GPS tracker on his car during routine maintenance (Reddit)
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a pervious Supreme Court ruling stating federal authorities must seek out a warrant before equipping suspects' vehicles with GPS monitoring devices. {C} Previously, the Supreme Court had ruled that attaching such a device without a warrant constituted unreasonable search and seizure, a violation of the Fourth Amendment. This latest ruling said law enforcement officials need probable cause to obtain those warrants -- meaning they can't just be suspicious that a crime is happening.

  • Are You Being Followed?

    Do you ever get that feeling that you're being followed? Maybe you are. Everyone from law enforcement to car dealers are using GPS Devices to track people's rides. If you suspect something is up, you might want to check the following places.

    Photo: GaryCrane, Flickr

  • Image Credit: GARYCRANE, FLICKR
  • Under Your Car

    Last year, 20-year-old college student Yasir Afifi found this GPS tracking device underneath his car during a routine oil change. The device was affixed by magnet ''near the exhaust but futher in,'' according to Afifi's friend who turned to the online community Reddit to identify the device.

    According to Afifi, FBI agents approached him to retrieve the device days after its discovery. Despite being a U.S. citizen, he was apparently under suspicion due to his frequent travels to Egypt and the Middle East, and for being the son of a Muslim community leader.

    Photo: imgur via khaledthegypsy, Reddit 

  • Under Your Dash

    Conley Moret owns a car dealership that serves folks with bad or no credit. As part of his sales agreement, Moret equips his vehicles with GPS tracking devices. One of Moret's customers fell behind on their payments and tried to make off with the vehicle without ponying up the money owed. According to a press release from Rocky Mountain Tracking, Moret was able to use a Smart Tracker GPS device purchased from the company to retrieve the stolen vehicle.

    According to RMT's website, ''the [Smart Tracker] unit is most commonly mounted under the dash inside the vehicle,'' but they do sell internal and external waterproof mounts as well. Unlike some of the GPS tracking devices used by law enforcement, the Smart Tracker can be purchased online by anyone for the modest price of $175.

  • Pretty Much...Anywhere

    Rocky Mountain Tracking offers another unique GPS device called the Tracking Key. This unit ships with a USB connector which, when plugged into your PC, rebuilds all travel activity and presents it in custom reports and animated map routes. Another nifty feature is the built-in motion detector used to extend the life of the AAA batteries which power the unit.

    Best of all--or worst of all, depending on your point of view--the Tracking Key is water resistant and equipped with a powerful magnet, used to mount the unit. In other words: no fussy installation required!
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  • What Gives You The Right? 

    There are certainly some legitimate reasons one might require a GPS tracking device. For example: parents keeping tabs on their teen drivers or rental car services staying on top of their fleet. But until the Supreme Court defines what crosses the line, we remain a bit suspicious.

    UPDATE: The Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Monday, Jan 23, 2012 that a warrant must be obtained by law enforcement in order to track a suspect via GPS device. GPS tracking was found to constitute a "search or seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment," therefore violating a suspect's rights when carried out without a proper search warrant.

  • Image Credit: MARK WILSON, GETTY

The Third Circuit case involved a crime ring targeting Rite Aid pharmacies. The FBI used a"'slap-on" GPS tracking device to follow electrician Harry Katzin, who was suspected of cutting the stores' alarms before each heist. Ars Technica reported that while the FBI had the permission of the United States Attorney, they did not have a warrant. Katzin and two of his brothers where later arrested and charged with the robberies using evidence gathered via the tracking devices. This recent ruling means the primary evidence against the Katzin brothers will be inadmissible in court.

The Supreme Court ruled in the 2012 case of The United States v. Jones that such practices were unconstitutional, however that ruling didn't address whether a lower legal standard than probable cause could apply. In 2008 Antoine Jones was convicted of operating a cocaine ring based on evidence gathered via a GPS device that police placed on his Jeep. Evidence gathered by the device was thrown out of court and his conviction overturned. After three trials, Jones accepted a plea deal for 15 years with credit for time served.

The Third Circuit Court ruled that such devices fly in the face of the protections afforded citizens by the Fourth Amendment. Katzin and his accomplices will have the evidence against them thrown out of court. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation both released statements applauding the ruling.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hey chibblitz..... crook, punks and maggots never stop screwing up. There's always the next time.
      Living Legend
      • 1 Year Ago
      Another tool that the police use to get rid of dirtbags and saves lifes bites the dust. Shame.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Living Legend
        Police with no limits on their operations and equipment is a dangerous path, and never forget that Whjat is a dirt bag to you might not be to someone else, while you could be the Dirt Bag in the governments eyes, and then you will sorely miss those Constitutional protections you are so very quick to deny others.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Yep! you got those judges that say you cannot, but who say criminals cannot? sound like a one way war.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I am pleased with the outcome. The police do not need anymore power than they already have.
      • 1 Year Ago
      were they guilty or not guilty.. guilty but let go threw some loop hole..
        Bill Wendt
        • 1 Year Ago
        They were never convicted so how can you say that they are guilty? That loophole that you refer to is the 4th Amendment,moron.
      • 1 Year Ago
      jack up your car and look under the car good and look all around under your car motor and around the motor. they would hook it under the cars. then you can take it off and have fun with it like throw it away and they will track the garbage truck to the landfill lol. or throw it in the ocean lol.
      • 1 Year Ago
      The FBI is always trying to entrap people and do it in ways that makes them above our own laws. I am glad this was held up to protect our 4th Amendment rights. I do agree that criminals should pay for their crimes, however. But, I have seen all too many times the federal governemnt breaking the law for illegal convictions. They feel they are not bound by the law when it comes to making arrests and building cases.
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's a good tool just like wiretaps and search warrants, both of which require prior approval by a court. There are exceptions when circumstances preclude getting a warrant and exigent circumstances exist then the court should grant latitude in deploying the device. But if there is time to gain approval by all means do so because it usually makes the case tighter and more winnable. I'm for getting the conviction that will stand and give the offender free room and board for extended, uninterrupted periods.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Every child born from now on should have a gps chip implanted as soon as the umbilical cord is cut. All vehicles produced from now on should also utilize this feature.
        • 1 Year Ago
        You Most Likely Posted That Statement For SHOCK VALUE And To Get Off On The Angry Responses You Most Likely Will Receive... I Don't Buy It As Being Sincere But Let Me Ask You A Question? What Makes You So Sure They Haven't Been Doing It Already? Consider Your Brain The Hard Drive Of A Computer With Human Active Software Programs Installed... Choose the Red Pill and See How Deep The Rabbit Hole Goes ...
        • 1 Year Ago
        Zeig hiel, Mien Fuerer
      • 1 Year Ago
      There had been a black box built into most cars for several years. I don't think the cops are using them yet though.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Meer suspicion is not enough and that 's appears to be what this article is addressing. However, if probable exists for an arrest and the subject is being followed for further evidence or to identify others involved; surveillance likely justifies the use of this device without a warrant. If a subject is running from or evading arrest the legal rules of hot pursuit are in play. The device is likely legal, no knock entry and crossing bailiwick lines without warrants is also legal. Now the kicker. If you’re honestly mistaken in an above scenario, a passenger in the vehicle or the vehicle is public transportation, you can become a legal subject for anything during the observation. The above is normally the way these issues are addressed. However, a judge can create anything.
      • 1 Year Ago
      If police suspect someone enough to put on a GPS tracker, Then go get a warrant !....easy !
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