Is it theft to remove a GPS tracking device?

 

Cops put GPS tracker on man’s car, charge him with theft for removing it

Basically, a person finds something on his car and tosses it. The police then find out that that something, which is a GPS device, has been removed from that car and attempt to charge that person with theft. Seems that that is an abuse of the law.

Of course, things are not that simple, the person was being surveiled for selling meth. Nevertheless, independent of any other potential crimes being committed, attempting to charge a person for removing an unknown "installed" GPS device (without the consent of the owner) is wrong.

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Garmin Nuvi650 - Morehead City, NC
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My opinion FWIW

He found something and "says" he didn't know what it was. Either way, he found it and can toss it. But I am probably correct that the device had something along the lines of "If found return to" or "Property of".

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Nuvi 2460LMT.

Maybe it just fell off

Things happen. Your Honor, I have no idea what happened. Maybe I hit a pothole or something...

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"There's no substitute for local knowledge" nüvi 750, nüvi 3597

Ridiculous

From the linked article:
"A lawyer for the government acknowledged that it wouldn't be theft to remove a tracking device put there by a private party. But he argued that things are different when the government has a warrant to use a tracking device. The device had a legal basis for being on the car, the lawyer argued. By removing it and preventing tracking, Heuring was depriving the government of the use of its property."

What a ridiculous argument for the prosecutor to make. How was the car owner supposed to know the GPS tracker was put there by the government?? Obviously the police wouldn't have told him so.

It's likely all charges including drug possession will be dropped by the prosecutor upon further review or dimissed by a judge in this case, because the drug charges will be considered "poison fruit."

/I am not an attorney

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"141 could draw faster than he, but Irving was looking for 143..."

Well

What this means is that if you find something like this on your car, wrap it in many layers of aluminum foil so it is cut off from all radio signals in and out, so it can never be located or heard from again.

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GPSMAP64s, iPhone XR w/Garmin North America, Yaesu VX-8R w/GPS.

A better idea

diesel wrote:

What this means is that if you find something like this on your car, wrap it in many layers of aluminum foil so it is cut off from all radio signals in and out, so it can never be located or heard from again.

I've got a better idea: take a hammer and beat the s**t out of it.

Phil

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Phil in Mentor, Ohio -- Garmin Nuvi 1450

Build a Wall

Around Indiana.

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GPSMAP64s, iPhone XR w/Garmin North America, Yaesu VX-8R w/GPS.

Supreme Court Here We Come!

I do hope this goes to the Supreme Court of the United States of America. By charging this guy with theft for removing the GPS and depriving the police of surveillance information is a stretch.

So if I find one of these on my car, I am therefore obligated to leave it there??? I don't think so.

I'm not a lawyer, not that it matters, but this seems to be unAmerican. The police didn't do their job correctly. Yeah, it appears the guy was doing so bad stuff, but catching him has to be done correctly.

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GPSMAP64s, iPhone XR w/Garmin North America, Yaesu VX-8R w/GPS.

How did the police know he

How did the police know he removed the device?
Maybe street punks removed it.

Whatever, the fine for removing it has got to be less than he would have got for drug dealing, possession, etc.

But you're right, if I find one on my car it gets wrapped in foil and somehow is lost forever.

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I never get lost, but I do explore new territory every now and then.

Fifth Amendment

I have to think that protection against self-incrimination can be in play here, and disabling the GPS is part of that. That the police scheme was discovered is their problem. By saying that the theft of data from the GPS is indeed valid, this goes against privacy and self-incrimination. If this theft charge is valid, then people are obligated to leave these tracking devices on, which is bizarre.

But then, this is Indiana.

I do hope this goes to the Supreme Court of the USA.

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GPSMAP64s, iPhone XR w/Garmin North America, Yaesu VX-8R w/GPS.

Indiana Supreme Court Did Good

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GPSMAP64s, iPhone XR w/Garmin North America, Yaesu VX-8R w/GPS.

foreign expenses

The device will run up a huge cell phone bill reporting back if it was placed in a small box and mailed to another country...

Without reading SC decision my guess

Only valid if they served warrant to car owner before placing, note on tracking device could be scam. But then again we have deuterated so far from our Constitution anything is possible

Deuterated?

windwalker wrote:

Only valid if they served warrant to car owner before placing, note on tracking device could be scam. But then again we have deuterated so far from our Constitution anything is possible

I understand the meaning in chemistry but am confused here confused

Pretty sure he meant

Pretty sure he meant "deteriorated"

Spelling is always a problem on the web, especially if someone is using autocorrect.

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I never get lost, but I do explore new territory every now and then.

Whew!!!

Apparently the Supreme Court of Indiana did not want this to get much more attention outside of Indiana, so they put an end to it.

Bottom line, bad police work, lazy police work. The magistrates that issued the warrants need to be fired.

Read the Indiana Supreme Court decision, restores my faith. Too bad it had to go so far. In doing so, it shows how corrupt and incompetent the lower courts and law enforcement really are.

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GPSMAP64s, iPhone XR w/Garmin North America, Yaesu VX-8R w/GPS.

I would say yes

But, it would have to be as obvious that the device were legally placed.

For example, before I was aware of RFID, I found something taped to my rearview and freaked out. I had no idea what it was and it said "Alien" on it, so I was creeped out. Through google I determined it was a RFID tag, and so because I DIY my car and nobody has ever had possession of it but me except on several occasions, the only possible place this could have been affixed is at the BMW dealership. I have every right imho to remove it. And it breaks into pieces, if I really want to be a jerk I could say they have to compensate me for the mess.

I would say if a person doesn't know what it is, they can remove it--but it's going to be a court case.

Can you remove a boot, and say you didn't know what it was, you came back to your car and a thing was clamped to your wheel? It doesn't seem plausible and now you're being ignorant.

How about chalk marks on tires? Can you simply erase them saying you didn't know what they were you thought it was vandalism?

It's a real shame that we know we have issues with our children's education, and we spin our wheels on nonsense.

Interesting

You say "yes" to what?

The problem was that the GPS device was not legally placed.

You bring up the boot. The boot is INTENDED to deprive the owner of the vehicle from use of their vehicle. Exactly what the police contrived as the charge of theft when the GPS was removed from the car. Should the police departments now be charged with theft of the use of property because of the boot affixed to the car?

And that chalk mark on my tire... what if I then drove the car and parked it again on that street and was ticketed after only a couple minutes because of the old chalk mark?

I'm not obligated to leave anything on my car that was added by someone else without my authority, as the court noted.

johnnatash4 wrote:

But, it would have to be as obvious that the device were legally placed.

For example, before I was aware of RFID, I found something taped to my rearview and freaked out. I had no idea what it was and it said "Alien" on it, so I was creeped out. Through google I determined it was a RFID tag, and so because I DIY my car and nobody has ever had possession of it but me except on several occasions, the only possible place this could have been affixed is at the BMW dealership. I have every right imho to remove it. And it breaks into pieces, if I really want to be a jerk I could say they have to compensate me for the mess.

I would say if a person doesn't know what it is, they can remove it--but it's going to be a court case.

Can you remove a boot, and say you didn't know what it was, you came back to your car and a thing was clamped to your wheel? It doesn't seem plausible and now you're being ignorant.

How about chalk marks on tires? Can you simply erase them saying you didn't know what they were you thought it was vandalism?

It's a real shame that we know we have issues with our children's education, and we spin our wheels on nonsense.

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GPSMAP64s, iPhone XR w/Garmin North America, Yaesu VX-8R w/GPS.

"Removing a GPS Tracking device from your car isn't theft"

It looks like they made some case law on this one:

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2020/02/removing-a-gps-t...

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GO

authoritative source

diesel wrote:

Here's the Indiana Supreme Court:

https://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/02202001lhr.pdf

Thank you for the authoritative source.

thrown into the back of a passing truck

EV Driver wrote:

The device will run up a huge cell phone bill reporting back if it was placed in a small box and mailed to another country...

I remember a spy or detective movie where the GPS was thrown into the back of a passing truck.

I believe the Law should use what ever it takes

I also believe we need to change some rules, for example evidence Obtained in wrong manner. Found with out Search Warrant, or outside Warrant Parameters. The evidence should still be valid and used to convict, action should be taken against person or persons who collected it illegally. In this case if the BG found the GPS, they had no duty to leave it in place or give it to Police because the PD did not "Serve" the Warrant on BG. It was still legal to place the device, but the PD was responsible for the "Risk" of losing if the kept the Warrant secret

Not so sure

Looks like the Indiana Supreme Court exposed that there are some pretty questionable police, magistrates and lower courts. Something tells me this happens all too commonly and frequently in that county.

gordyo wrote:

It looks like they made some case law on this one:

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2020/02/removing-a-gps-t...

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GPSMAP64s, iPhone XR w/Garmin North America, Yaesu VX-8R w/GPS.

Great minds think alike

minke wrote:

...
I remember a spy or detective movie where the GPS was thrown into the back of a passing truck.

I was thinking on the same line. Maybe it would take a short walk to another car in the parking lot. Who's to say how it got there???

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"There's no substitute for local knowledge" nüvi 750, nüvi 3597

the society

we live in today is hard to describe.

I see these videos on YouTube where people basically taunt others, looking for a payday (lawsuit, etc.).

One that really made me laugh, however, is where the guy with the camera said, "I'll break your neck, bro."

The other guy was a construction worker and came right up to him toe to toe and swiped away the camera. The son was filming as was the wife (paydirt). They go back and forth and the guy is saying things about the other's physique and do you work out, he puts his hand right on the camera guy's shoulder and the camera guy says I am pressing charges on you for assault. The construction guy goes why, because I want a hug? It's just hilarious and as the camera guy flags down the police, the construction guy is going, do you work out?

Here's the irony. That guy could have gotten the beating of his life. And wife and son would be excitedly getting it on video for a great YOuTube and lawsuit.

Anyway the cops didn't even so much as do anything as there was nothing to do--they told the camera guy you could have backed off, you didn't have to be in the construction guys face. So the camera guy is hurling insults at the cops saying I pray this happens to you and your family and children, being assaulted.

It's 2020. Seems like we spin so many cycles around common sense these days, when I honestly believe that 20 years ago? We had a sense of what is right, and what is wrong, and instead of spinning the cycles we worked. lol

Read It

Highly recommend you read the Indiana Supreme Court decision.

They made it clear there were Constitutional violations, and other problems with the police, magistrates and lower courts.

Very disappointing to see so much bad law enforcement and judicial malfeasance.

The Indiana Supreme Court made it clear that the warrants were illegal. And there was nothing wrong with removing the GPS. The attempt to claim theft as the police were deprived of information from the GPS was so unConstitutional.

I hope the guy sues the police, town, county etc. that tried to do this to him.

The audacity is chilling. To think that the police and District Attorneys tried to pull this is wild. Somebody involved with this must have known this was audacious and illegal, and really thought they could get away with it. Or the law enforcement is so profoundly corrupt out there. Or they are incredibly incompetent.

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GPSMAP64s, iPhone XR w/Garmin North America, Yaesu VX-8R w/GPS.

All

diesel wrote:

The audacity is chilling. To think that the police and District Attorneys tried to pull this is wild. Somebody involved with this must have known this was audacious and illegal, and really thought they could get away with it. Or the law enforcement is so profoundly corrupt out there. Or they are incredibly incompetent.

My vote is for all of the above!

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I never get lost, but I do explore new territory every now and then.

exactly

what I mean. How will winning the lawsuit increase our GDP?

diesel wrote:

I hope the guy sues the police, town, county etc. that tried to do this to him.

What Does GDP have to do with this?

johnnatash4 wrote:

what I mean. How will winning the lawsuit increase our GDP?

diesel wrote:

I hope the guy sues the police, town, county etc. that tried to do this to him.

What does the GDP have to do with this?

NOTHING, that's what. Divert much?

But the lawsuits might be a good deterrent to prevent illegal warrants, searches, and other illegal and nefarious actions by the law enforcement and judicial entities.

As it is, the town/county will probably have to pay the defendants legal defense bills. And for a small town, that is gonna hurt.

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GPSMAP64s, iPhone XR w/Garmin North America, Yaesu VX-8R w/GPS.

GDP has nothing to do with

GDP has nothing to do with it.

I hope the guy goes to jail in the near future for the drug things he's doing.

Furthermore he will never win a lawsuit against the police.

This whole thing is about him thinking he was somehow the victim in all this. BS. Go to jail and take your licks. Do the crime and don't whine when you have to do the time.

No pity here for him or the cops in that town, county, or whatever.

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I never get lost, but I do explore new territory every now and then.

In NY

With the new bail reform laws that were passed at the Nth hour by our beloved Governor he would probably get a slap on the wrist with an appearance ticket and a "I promise to appear". Yup, in NY he lets all the riff raff run free with no bail because most can't afford it.

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Nuvi 2460LMT.

Well

The drug dealer was a victim. The Supreme Court made that perfectly clear. The drug dealer was a victim of terrible police work and prosecution.

And because of that illegal and terrible police work, the drug dealer can not be prosecuted for his misdeeds since all the evidence was obtained illegally.

You need to realize that much of our judicial system is built around protecting people from defective police and prosecution. This was a perfect example.

KenSny wrote:

GDP has nothing to do with it.

I hope the guy goes to jail in the near future for the drug things he's doing.

Furthermore he will never win a lawsuit against the police.

This whole thing is about him thinking he was somehow the victim in all this. BS. Go to jail and take your licks. Do the crime and don't whine when you have to do the time.

No pity here for him or the cops in that town, county, or whatever.

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GPSMAP64s, iPhone XR w/Garmin North America, Yaesu VX-8R w/GPS.

Law Enforcement Must Obey The Rules

If we are to have a civil society, those responsible for enforcing the laws must obey the rules. They must not abuse their authority for malicious targeted legal actions against citizens, even if that person is to believed to be involved in an illegal activity.

Conversely, the legal system also needs to avoid endorsing "social justice". The concept that certain crimes can simply be overlooked because the person charged is somehow a victim of a perceived social injustice. To a degree, that concept has metastasized into viewing some criminals as "victims". An unfortunate interpretation. The victim is the person who was "damaged" in some manner by the malicious actions of the person who was charged.

Here is the link to another post on the issue. State Court Says It Isn't Theft To Remove An Unmarked Law Enforcement Tracking Device From Your Car.

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Garmin Nuvi650 - Morehead City, NC

IMHO the citizens of Indiana

IMHO the citizens of Indiana are the victims here.

1. The police involved ignore sound procedures and went somewhat rogue. I guess they watch to many police TV shows where Hollywood, or wherever, creates drama. The LEOs in charge of this scandal should all be demoted or fined for wasting public funds. But that will not happen in Indiana.

2. A scumbag drug dealer is walking around free. And he is a drug dealer and not a user. That much police effort would not be used to "get" a user. If they were tracking him to see who was selling to him, they were expending a lot of effort.

Don't be suprised if this guy is back in the news one way or the other in the future.

And the justice system in this matter has dragged on for how many years until the court ruling in 2018. Nonsense!

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I never get lost, but I do explore new territory every now and then.

Read #2 Again

Read your Item #2 carefully. The Indiana Supreme Court excoriated the police in this case for exactly the same kind of thinking, hunches, presuming and assuming. Massive amounts of police resources have screwed up before. Wrong houses have been raided.

There is no evidence that the guy was a dealer, only a hunch. The evidence at the scene showed there was a user. No huge quantities of drugs were found. The police claimed they got a tip from a source. Riiiiiiiight... where have we seen that before? You can't assume this was a big deal and the guy was a dealer because of the amount of resources the police used against the guy. The Indiana Supreme Court concluded that the LEO only had a hunch. The Indiana Supreme Court excoriated the warrant applications, the warrants were grossly illegal.

The Indiana Supreme Court ruled the actions of the LEOs and police department were illegal. Have the charges against the perps been filed yet? Have they been allowed to keep their jobs, pensions and benefits?

Read the Indiana Supreme Court decision. They slapped the LEO around a bit too.

The warrants should have never been allowed. That the Supreme Court had to get involved is very disturbing. This should have been snuffed out at a very low level.

KenSny wrote:

IMHO the citizens of Indiana are the victims here.

1. The police involved ignore sound procedures and went somewhat rogue. I guess they watch to many police TV shows where Hollywood, or wherever, creates drama. The LEOs in charge of this scandal should all be demoted or fined for wasting public funds. But that will not happen in Indiana.

2. A scumbag drug dealer is walking around free. And he is a drug dealer and not a user. That much police effort would not be used to "get" a user. If they were tracking him to see who was selling to him, they were expending a lot of effort.

Don't be suprised if this guy is back in the news one way or the other in the future.

And the justice system in this matter has dragged on for how many years until the court ruling in 2018. Nonsense!

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GPSMAP64s, iPhone XR w/Garmin North America, Yaesu VX-8R w/GPS.

Please remember

This is a place for polite discussions, not politically charged debates.

~Angela

Law & Order

In a review of the county and town websites where this took place, the town has a police department and the county has a sheriff department. The town is tiny, ~6,250 people.

The officers cited in the Indiana Supreme Court decision were Warrick County Sheriff Department personnel. They are no longer patrol officers, detectives, or investigators anymore, but are now SROs, aka: School Resource Officers.

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GPSMAP64s, iPhone XR w/Garmin North America, Yaesu VX-8R w/GPS.

The answer was "NO".

But an interesting twist can be made. Was the unknown object attached to the car, or the car to the unknown object? I could say I removed my car from the unknown object.

The Supreme Court did say that a conclusion that it would be illegal to remove an unknown, unmarked device from your car would be illogical. The claim of theft that the LEO tried to make would require that it would be impermissible for anybody to remove unknown, unmarked objects from their cars.

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GPSMAP64s, iPhone XR w/Garmin North America, Yaesu VX-8R w/GPS.

Not Marked

If I found one on one of my vehicles, and it was unmarked, I would certainly remove it and disable it.

Might even go to a local Donut Shop and attach it to a Police vehicle. LOL

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Metricman Nuvi 660, GTM-20 Traffic Receiver Nuvi 3597 GTM-60 Traffic Receiver Williamsburg, VA

Or put it on the Chief of

Or put it on the Chief of Polices car!

Yup

minke wrote:

I remember a spy or detective movie where the GPS was thrown into the back of a passing truck.

That ploy has been used many times in novels in recent years - enough so that it is now almost a cliche.

- Tom -

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XXL540, GO LIVE 1535, GO 620

I would

Remove it and mount it on someone's long distant semi.

Tracking Device on Vehicle

A good attorney could most likely get his charge dismissed. Now suppose this scenario. In most states your car provides the legal protection of you being in your home. Suppose the person drove their car into their garage and found this tracking device. Now they have their car, which provides portability in home rights, inside of their home by being in their garage. They found the device and removed it while under the protection of the rights provided by their home. Is it a law that someone can put a tracking device on your car and track you? How does the person being tracked not know that the device is being used by a criminal gang to track their activities so that they can break into their house? What about a group who might have the intention of kidnapping a family member? Or in another scenario, a gang could intend harm on the driver or family members, so they are tracking them to see where the gang can take action.

Basically, though, since the person has been surveilled for selling meth, then law enforcement may try anything to get a charge to stick. By doing this they can create an investigation which could lead to something else.

Regardless of the situation, there has to be some rights that were violated and a good attorney can prove that this activity took away certain personal liberties that are provided in the US Constitution.

Better than dismissed

Panama, read the Indiana Supreme Court decision. Yes, this went through the Indiana Appeals Court and then up to the Indiana Supreme Court. The links are up there in the thread, I think I put one up. The Indiana Supreme Court made it very clear that the police, magistrates and lower courts did terrible throughout this process, and all evidence gathered via the illegal warrants is suppressed. Which effectively wipes out the case. The two detectives/investigators that ran this case are now school resource officers. Definitely read the Indiana Supreme Court decision, the Justices made some very pointed, if not snarky, comments directed towards the LEOs and Magistrates.

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GPSMAP64s, iPhone XR w/Garmin North America, Yaesu VX-8R w/GPS.

What if..

it was attached to a police car from a differnt town? just wondering

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Garmin Nuvi 765T, Garmin Drive 60LM

Court did good

Yes they did , shows the cops are not free to do "Anything" they feel like as some in this country seem to think. Some are too busy chasing women to think straight. Not all just some...

It's the law

panama wrote:

A good attorney could most likely get his charge dismissed. Now suppose this scenario. In most states your car provides the legal protection of you being in your home. Suppose the person drove their car into their garage and found this tracking device. Now they have their car, which provides portability in home rights, inside of their home by being in their garage. They found the device and removed it while under the protection of the rights provided by their home. Is it a law that someone can put a tracking device on your car and track you? How does the person being tracked not know that the device is being used by a criminal gang to track their activities so that they can break into their house? What about a group who might have the intention of kidnapping a family member? Or in another scenario, a gang could intend harm on the driver or family members, so they are tracking them to see where the gang can take action.

Basically, though, since the person has been surveilled for selling meth, then law enforcement may try anything to get a charge to stick. By doing this they can create an investigation which could lead to something else.

Regardless of the situation, there has to be some rights that were violated and a good attorney can prove that this activity took away certain personal liberties that are provided in the US Constitution.

It's well established law that it's perfectly legal for cops to put a GPS device on a car AS LONG AS THEY HAVE A WARRANT to do so. The cops' chain of command first had to approve seeking the warrant and then it was up to the judge to make sure the warrant was, well, warranted.

Phil

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Phil in Mentor, Ohio -- Garmin Nuvi 1450

Power

As the Supreme Court of Indiana found, the warrants were illegal.

This is stunning, and never should have went up as high as the Indiana Supreme Court.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

plunder wrote:

It's well established law that it's perfectly legal for cops to put a GPS device on a car AS LONG AS THEY HAVE A WARRANT to do so. The cops' chain of command first had to approve seeking the warrant and then it was up to the judge to make sure the warrant was, well, warranted.

Phil

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GPSMAP64s, iPhone XR w/Garmin North America, Yaesu VX-8R w/GPS.

Don't admit to removing it,

Don't admit to removing it, play dumb. The burden of proof otherwise is on them to produce evidence showing you did it. I don't like lying, but when you are being set-up . . .
.

Not about putting the GPS on the car

This is about removing the GPS from the car.

This case was about the suspect being charged with theft for removing the GPS from his car. Then not only was the pursuit of charges of theft dubious, because those charges were defective, and the related warrants therefore illegal, the subsequent derivative warrants for the other contraband that was found during the search for the GPS had to be deemed illegal and suppressed. Therefore, these LEOs totally botched the case. The evidence of drugs was found with derivative warrants based off the illegal warrants and hence all evidence had to be suppressed.

Again, I highly recommend that you all carefully read the decisions. Not just for the entertainment value, but what you learn may come in handy in the future. For example, the Indiana Appeals Court upheld the police actions, only to be shredded by the Indiana Supreme Court.

A friend of mine is a trial lawyer and he tells me that he taught his kids to never trust cops, and to never answer any questions from the police.

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GPSMAP64s, iPhone XR w/Garmin North America, Yaesu VX-8R w/GPS.

Is It Theft To Remove A GPS Tracking Device?

sunsetrunner wrote:

...I don't like lying, but when you are being set-up...

Just like Mayor Marion Barry said: The enraged Barry muttered over and over, "Bitch set me up...I shouldn't have come up here... God damn bitch" -- references to the woman who lured him to the hotel, former girlfriend Hazel Diane "Rasheeda" Moore.

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Marion_Barry

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