Archive for the ‘’ Category

Linkage: In Reference to Murder

May 14, 2008

In Reference to Murder is a great resource of links to other crime related sites.  Organized by crime type.


In Brief: Woman Busts Laptop Thieves Remotely

May 9, 2008

According to WCBS, a woman in Westchester NY was not only able to locate her stolen laptop on the Internet but also was able to remotely photograph the thieves using the laptop’s internal web camera.  The perpetrators were caught as a result.  Apparently a friend of the laptop’s owner noticed that the stolen machine was online, and notified the true owner who was able to use Back to My Mac to take control of her Mac over the Internet to obtain the pictures.  Future criminals and crime fighters take note.

Using Google to Commit Crimes

July 18, 2007

This is a somewhat comical true story of some rather clueless criminals in Denver that used WD-40 to “obscure” surveillance cameras and couldn’t open a few safes even though they apparently had the combinations.  Getting a bit creative these obvious amateurs were able to use Google to search for “how to open a safe” and “how to crack a safe.”  With this information they were able to quickly figure out how to open the safes and got away with $12,000.

 It is not difficult to find information that might be useful in the commision of crimes using Google.  For example one can learn to escape from handcuffs or pick a lock, although obviously these skills still do require some practice.  I’ve previously written about the possibility of using Google Calendar to determine both a target and the timing of a crime.  A similar story recently was reported by the Washington Post and made its way around the blogosphere as well.

Future Crime Reader Interests

September 22, 2006

Some readers may not be aware that the search terms you use to find Future Crime are reported and recorded. Interestingly, yesterday 28.5% of Future Crime’s views resulted from searches on the terms:

“how to use” “stolen credit card numbers

I don’t know who you are, but unless you were very careful I expect your IP address was recorded as well your search terms. Not very smart for a supposed future criminal!

What is

September 19, 2006 is a term I use to describe the impact of network technologies such as the Internet and mobile phones on crime and criminal enterprises. Applications of include the following:

  1. Commission of crimes – this is the one part of that’s gotten mainstream press coverage so far. Phishing, hacking into computers for credit card numbers, and so on. Data thefts at major retailers such as BJ’s Wholesale Club and Lowe’s indicate that there is probably more of this going on than has been reported in the media. And smart criminals may target smaller retailers that can’t afford the security resources of large corporations. Although not strictly a network based attack, computers have also been used to steal cars and other items as reported here and here.
  2. Scouting targets – identifying people or places that are likely targets for crimes, and developing intelligence about targets. One blogger recently revealed how to use Google Calendar to scout potential victims for burglarly or worse. Sound far fetched? Criminals in South Africa have been observed using cell phones to photograph potential victims. Google maps provides detailed maps for locating possible escape routes, planning look out locations and so on. Satellite imagery can be used to examine roof tops for covert access points to buildings.
  3. Sharing criminal expertise – Criminals have used websites, blogs, etc. to share methods of operation, criminal techniques and strategies, an even information about specific targets. The notorious Shadowcrew site included instructions on how to commit identity theft and fraud. Some worry that these marketplaces will become a “bazaar of violence” facilitating murder and terrorism.
  4. Online markets for stolen goods – The Shadowcrew created an online market for stolen credit card numbers and eBay is used to “fence” stolen goods. More of these sorts of sites likely exist today.
  5. Avoiding capture – criminals can use surveillance technologies, cell phones, etc. to warn each other of the approach of law enforcement personnel. Usually we think of surveillance technologies being used to fight crime, but criminals can also use them to avoid capture. Picture phones and wireless IP based cameras can be used to warn of the approach of law enforcement. Drug dealers use cellphones and multiple operatives to avoid capture with large quantities of cash and drugs for example. Analysis of publicly reported crime statistics can be used to predict areas with less law enforcement coverage. Imagine a future web site where criminals could determine the locations of police cars in real-time accessible over a cellphone or by using a stolen or otherwise obtained police data terminal.