Hi-tech police are on the trail of burglars' 'digital footprint'09/16/2023
Hi-tech police are on the trail of burglars’ ‘digital footprint’ that they leave behind at the scene
- Officers will be told to track offenders by tracing the property that they steal
- Experts say data left on victim’s router could establish phone number of culprit
Police are to hunt down burglars by following the ‘digital footprints’ they leave behind at the scene for the first time.
Officers will be told to track offenders by tracing the property they steal, such as mobile phones and cars.
They will also attempt to locate criminals who may have unwittingly left a vital clue to their identity if their phone automatically exchanges a ‘digital handshake’ with the wifi router of the home they raided.
Experts say data left on a victim’s router is capable of establishing the phone number of the culprit, enabling police to trace their location.
The College of Policing is today launching a high-tech training package for officers around the country so they can go on the offensive to tackle the scourge which blights millions of lives.
It is part of a drive to catch every burglar if there is ‘reasonable evidence’ after a landmark agreement between police chiefs to attend every raided property.
The commitment in September last year came after burglary prosecution rates fell below 2 per cent in some force areas. In June, the National Police Chiefs’ Council confirmed that all 43 forces are now attending 100 per cent of residential burglaries.
Officers will be told to track offenders by tracing the property they steal, such as mobile phones and cars (Stock image)
Previously, little effort has gone into tracing burglars’ phones or the handsets of their victims as it was considered that such time-consuming resources should be utilised for more important cases such as murders or terror attacks.
For years burglary was considered a lower level offence, with victims often forced to track their missing property themselves. But last month police agreed to a new policy to investigate every crime if there is a ‘reasonable lead’, with no offence too minor to be solved.
It means officers will be forced to act if there is ‘tangible evidence’ such as footage from CCTV, doorbell cameras, vehicle dashcams, GPS or phone tracking, regardless of the value of any stolen property.
Criminals often leave behind a digital trace that can be used for evidential leads, with wireless connections made with masts and routers which can be tracked. In addition, newer cars are often equipped with ‘telematics’, which allows stolen vehicles to be traced using GPS technology and on-board diagnostics.
Using the information, officers will not only be able to locate stolen vehicles, but also work out the route the thieves took so they can recover CCTV to assist in prosecutions.
Criminals often leave behind a digital trace that can be used for evidential leads, with wireless connections made with masts and routers which can be tracked (Stock image)
The training aims to broaden the digital knowledge of officers to help solve crimes and bring more burglars to justice.
David Tucker, the College of Policing’s head of crime, said: ‘Every officer needs to become a digital native so they can identify these offenders and catch them. As the digital landscape advances, so do criminals’ tactics and techniques.
‘It’s so important that our police force stays up to date with new learning which reflects the evolving challenges of modern policing.’
Mr Tucker described burglary as ‘an incredibly invasive crime that can leave victims feeling unsafe in their own homes’.
He said the new training package will provide ‘more opportunities to spot clues and track suspects so we can catch criminals and keep the public safe’.
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