For some criminals, it’s fair to say that mobile phones have been a boon. According to crime reports, South African robbers use cameraphones to take photos of bank customers who are making large withdrawals. Their partners in crime can then easily identify and target high rollers.
Meanwhile, as anyone even on nodding terms with the Wire will attest, pre-paid handsets are a useful tool in avoiding police surveillance. And just last week, we reported how drug dealers at South American prisons are ingeniously using carrier pigeons to smuggle mobile phone parts into prisons. They then use their handsets to mastermind nefarious activities in the outside world.
Luckily for us, however, the majority of miscreants have nothing like the level of street smarts of those listed above. Take, for example, young Richard Hannah who was jailed for six years recently after being found guilty of burglary at Nottingham Crown Court. Said perp was caught out because he left his handset at the crime scene with a picture of himself on the screen.
Then there’s the anonymous teen in Arizona who was brought to justice this week when his phone accidently rang the police. Brilliantly, he was “bragging to his homies” about pinching a car stereo at the time. From there, it was simply a case of police employing signal triangulation to trace him.
In an ideal world, criminals would be easily identifiable from the bag labelled SWAG under their arm, stripy tops and Scarlett Pimpernell-style masks. But as long as mobile phones are being used by pig-ignorant thugs who’d fail even at taking candy from a baby, that utopia might not be so far away as we imagine.