GPS Tracking Locates Rite-Aid Pharmacy Robber

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Robbing a store isn’t as easy as it used to be, thanks to GPS tracking. These days, robbers have to worry about more than just covering their faces and avoiding cameras. They also have to worry about the possibility of being tracked once they leave the store.


On April 11, a man attempted to rob a Detroit Rite-Aid pharmacy by brandishing a gun and demanding cash. The store manager put nearly $5,000 dollars into the robber’s pillowcase. But he also managed to slip in a GPS tracking device, a little something extra that the thief hadn’t bargained for. Once the thief and his accomplice drove away, the device was activated and police were able to stop and search the vehicle just a few miles away.


GPS technology has proved helpful to law enforcement in a variety of different circumstances from hold-ups and bank robberies to tracking paroled sex offenders. In addition to showing location, many devices can alert officers if the wearer crosses a specified boundary, making them useful for monitoring off-limits areas like schools and playgrounds.


In the case of the Detroit robbery, a quick-thinking store manager was able to make the police officers’ job much easier by including a device that led them right to the suspects. And that’s not the first time police have tracked down robbers using a GPS device. In August of last year, Chicago police apprehended a bank robbery suspect using a tracking device that had been included with his stolen bag of cash.


There has been some question as to whether tracking devices should be used in certain cases (such as placing a device on a suspect’s car without a warrant in order to monitor his movements), but for the most part the relationship between the location-monitoring devices and law enforcement has been a positive one. And although the Supreme Court’s ruling last year stated that monitoring a vehicle’s movements with a tracking device constituted a search, it did not specify whether, in every case, that search would require a warrant.


Warrantless tracking is undoubtedly the last thing on the mind of the Rite-Aid pharmacy thief, however. He admitted to committing the robbery and is now facing charges of interfering with interstate commerce, which is a federal crime. It’s just one more victory for GPS tracking.

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Lynetta Bowen

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