TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Good Writeup of Cellular Tracking in NYC Criminal Case

Good Writeup of Cellular Tracking in NYC Criminal Case

Danny Burstein (
Wed, 15 Mar 2006 13:25:21 -0500

We techies know this, but most people don't ... Cell phones, whenever
on (and there's some question about whether a few of them do so even
when off) periodically "check in" with the cellular carrier. This
happens both on a time basis (perhaps every ten minutes) or when
moving from one tower area to another.

(- paper edition had some good graphics -)

How cell phone helped cops nail key murder suspect

Wednesday, March 15th, 2006

No one saw the fiend who dumped Imette St. Guillen's body by the muddy
shoulder of a dead-end Brooklyn road.

But a tall, blue electronic sentinel stands just around the bend and
sources say it puts prime suspect Darryl Littlejohn at the scene about
2 1/2 hours before St. Guillen's corpse was found.

The NYPD traced Littlejohn to that lonely corner of East New York, off
the Belt Parkway, by tracing the invisible "pings" that his T-Mobile
cell phone sent to the antenna-studded tower, sources said.

The big, blue tower apparently took notice that Littlejohn's cell
phone was nearby, even though he wasn't making a call and it stored
that information, which was later retrieved from T-Mobile by cops.

"It's a way to track people that is stronger than relying on
witnesses," a police source said.

[ snip ]

But even when you are not making a call, your phone is sending out a
regular "check" signal. In major cities you will be within range of
several phone masts. Computers can compare the signal strength emitted
by your phone and the tiny time lags at each aerial, giving the
operator several accurate reading s.

rest at:

Knowledge may be power, but communications is the key
[to foil spammers, my address has been double rot-13 encoded]

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