Posts Tagged ‘gadgets’
UPDATE 01/23/2012: U.S. Supreme Court ruling: ‘Attaching a GPS device to a vehicle then using device to monitor the vehicle’s movements constitutes a search under Fourth Amendment’ – United States v. Jones
Just this morning I read an article in the OC Register about a Costa Mesa cop being charged with hiding a GPS device in a woman’s car without her knowledge so he could follow her. The article didn’t spill many details about the stalking case except that the cop had a prior relationship with the woman and allegedly used the device to randomly show up at locations she traveled to, attempting to “rekindle their relationship”.
This sounds a little far fetched to try and win back an ex-lover, especially when you carry a badge and a gun. If you’re interested in reading the articles, the OC Register story is here and the official District Attorney press release is here.
As a private investigator in Orange County, I’ve had clients ask about GPS tracking devices and how they can be used to keep tabs on a significant other. The first question is never what the device can do or how often it pings the satellites for updates; they ask if it’s legal. Smart, right? Absolutely! They also ask if someone will be able to find the device and if it can be traced back to them. My response: I tell them the inside scoop and then give them a quick print out of the information you see below.
Here’s what the California Penal Code has to say about the use of an Electronic Tracking Device
California Tracking Device Law: California Penal Code section 637.7 states: (a) No person or entity in this state shall use an electronic tracking device to determine the location or movement of a person. (b) This section shall not apply when the registered owner, lesser, or lessee of a vehicle has consented to the use of the electronic tracking device with respect to that vehicle. (c) This section shall not apply to the lawful use of an electronic tracking device by a law enforcement agency. (d) As used in this section, “electronic tracking device” means any device attached to a vehicle or other movable thing that reveals its location or movement by transmission of electronic signals. (e) A violation of this section is a misdemeanor.
By the way, Section 637.7 refers to all electronic tracking devices, and does not differentiate between those that rely on GPS technology or not. As the laws catch up with the times, it is plausible that all 50 states will eventually enact laws similar to those of California. It also allows a maximum of six months in jail if convicted. That sure seems like a lot of time in jail for keeping an eye on someone. Here’s a “Hotsheet” on law enforcement’s rules and regulations for using GPS trackers, written by Deputy DA James Hosking.
Tracking devices are great, don’t get me wrong, the technology is truly amazing. There is nothing more enjoyable than helping out a client in need, but not without letting them know the law and the ramifications of illegal use. Additionally, hiring a private investigator who is properly licensed and knowledgeable with state laws should be able to steer you in the right direction on choosing the device that’s right for your particular situation. Knowing when and where these devices can be used is key to keeping yourself out of unnecessary trouble.
Ryan Garrahy is a state licensed private investigator specializing in surveillance, background checks, worker’s compensation claims investigations, locating individuals and workplace investigations.
Undercover Camera That Records Onto MicroSD Card
I was really impressed the first time I laid eyes on this nifty little undercover camera that private investigators use. As a private investigator in Orange County, California I knew this device would come in handy on some of my undercover cases. Maybe a cheating spouse case in Newport Beach, or a suspicious worker’s compensation insurance claim in Anaheim. I had heard some talk on the PI group boards in California, from other private detectives in Orange County, and YouTube even had someone from Taiwan post a video clip with the little camera in action. I had never actually had a chance to use it in the field on a real case and wanted to know the capabilities of this device. One of the first pictures I saw of the second generation “PI Camstick” was near one of those small 5 packs of Doublemint® gum. I thought to myself, “what an excellent design for an undercover camera, perfect for covert video”. So I finally decided to buy one for my company.
Cost: I paid $150.00 for the PI Camstick, purchased brand new from a spy store.
Design: The camera is slim, with a square shaped design in a glossy black color. Easy to reach recording button, recording lights on the front body of the device, flat clip on the rear, usb connection on the bottom, came in a very contemporary looking black box with a picture of the PI Camstick on the exterior of the box.
What it comes with: The camera come with 1) MicroSD card and SD converter adapter 2) USB charging/file loading cable 3) Instructions for operation.
How it records: The device records and saves its video files to the MicroSD card in an Apple Quicktime Movie format. There is one main button on the face of the device that starts and stops all recordings. This device can record both audio and video. There is NO time/date stamp feature available on this device. The MicroSD card can be easily removed from the device and placed into the SD slot of any laptop or desktop computer, files can be uploaded into Quicktime almost instantaneously.
Practical Uses: This device can really be used almost anywhere. I have found this undercover camera to be primarily useful in the following situations:
1) Clipped on the exterior of a jacket pocket for deep undercover use.
2) Placed near a laptop computer due to the fact it looks like a computer peripheral, video can be obtained of individuals sitting around a table or in an office environment.
3) Placed in the spine of a book for “motion-activated” video capturing, the battery can last for quite a while in this type of situation.
4) Hand-held in one’s palm this device can be very useful for capturing a claimant bending, lifting and shopping while out on a worker’s compensation claim.
Problems With The Device:
This device has a great design but lacks confidence when recording video and needs a more simple system for recording video. This undercover camera has a tendency to not record video when video is supposed to be recording. This device also has “delicate” system of pressing the record button and “holding down” for a few seconds to start and stop recording. I felt the system was flawed and needed to be changed to just a single press of the button to start and stop recording, without holding down for a certain period of time. I ultimately sold my PI Camstick due to the lack of confidence in the device’s recording ability. I have since purchased the newest version of the undercover camera, the PI Camstick 3, which retails for about $200.00 brand new.
COMING SOON: I’ll review of my newest purchase, the PI Camstick 3. This next generation Camstick has some really good upgrades, so look forward to the review.
About the Author:
Ryan Garrahy is a state licensed private investigator specializing in surveillance, background checks, locating individuals and workplace investigations. He is the owner & principal investigator for Orange Investigations.