10 Ways Cell Phones Are Used to Catch Criminals

Although mobile phones are gadgets that are used every day by the average person, your mobile phone could be the tool that allows you to become a superhero. Every day, cell phones are used by individuals and police investigators in different ways to catch criminals. Sometimes they catch criminals in the act of committing a crime. Other times they catch criminals after the crime has been committed and the individual needs to be apprehended. Either way, the mobile phone plays an important role in making sure the bad guys get caught.

Here’s a look at ten ways that people are using cell phones to catch criminals:


1. Sniffed out by dogs.

One of the most unique ways that cell phones are being used to catch criminals right now is that prisons are using them to catch people who are sneaking cell phones in to inmates. Prisoners are only supposed to be able to make monitored phone calls in order to prevent them from committing additional crimes while in prison but some prisoners get friends and family on the outside to sneak in cell phones so that they can continue to conduct their criminal business from inside the walls of the prison. Apparently all cell phones have some sort of scent that is unique and there are crime dogs that are being trained to notice that scent so that they can catch cell phones that are coming in to prisons.

2. Photos and videos of crimes.

A method of catching criminals in the act that is much more accessible to the average phone user is the option of using a camera’s cell phone to photograph a crime as it is taking place or to take a picture of a criminal in the act of leaving the scene of the crime. Camera phones are relatively discrete so someone who sees a crime happening may be able to photograph it in progress without catching the attention of the criminal. These photos can then be used to identify the criminal at a later date. Videos on phones can be used in a similar way. And in some cases with particularly dumb criminals, the criminal himself may actually post photos and videos online to brag about the crime and end up getting caught that way.

3. Texting for help.

In some cases, an individual with a cell phone is the victim of a crime. Kidnappings and car jackings are examples of cases where a victim may be able to notify others that they are in need of help by texting via cell phone without attracting the attention of the individual who has attacked him or her. In this case, the point is less to catch the criminal and more to save the victim but the end result is that the cell phone causes the criminal to be caught in the act.

4. Receiving texts about crimes.

It is also possible for you to sign up to receive text messages about certain types of crimes which alert you to look out for the criminals. One big example is that many people receive AMBER alerts by text. These are alerts that go out when a child has been abducted. These alerts tell people in the area to keep an eye out for the child so that the criminal can be caught and the kid can be returned to safety.

5. Finding the criminal using GPS.

It isn’t too hard to track down most cell phones these days using their built-in GPS technology or RFID tags. In many cases, police are able to trace calls and track criminals because they have the criminals have their cell phones on while they’re trying to escape.

6. Finding the criminal using identifying information on the phone.

In other cases, the criminal doesn’t have his cell phone with him but rather the cell phone ends up in the hands of the police one way or another. In this case, identifying information stored in the phone can be used to figure out the identity of the criminal.


7. Caught while breaking cell phone driving laws.

There are many places today in which it is illegal to talk or text while driving. In some places, police officers are allowed to pull you over simply for committing this act. It has happened that someone was pulled over for such a routine thing and then their license plate information revealed that they were wanted for a much bigger crime.

8. Eavesdropping on the cell phone.

It is possible to tap a cell phone in much the same way that you would tap a landline. This allows police to listen in on the cell phone calls of suspected criminals. The information revealed in such a situation could lead to the arrest and prosecution of the criminal. The extent to which this type of cell phone eavesdropping is allowed and can be used in court varies greatly depending on the location of the situation and the details involved in each case.

9. Fingerprint records.

Some countries are really trying to leverage today’s technology to prevent crime. One example is Mexico which is passing laws that require all cell phone companies to take fingerprints of anyone who buys a phone from them. This increases the size of the fingerprint database which can then be used in all types of criminal investigations. It’s an interesting approach to crime-fighting and not one used by many nations but it’s one more way that cell phones can be used to help catch criminals.

10. Calling the police.

Of course, the simplest way that cell phones are used to catch criminals today is the old-fashioned method of simply using the phone to contact the local police.

2 thoughts on “10 Ways Cell Phones Are Used to Catch Criminals

  1. Wow, I can’t believe people actually try to sneak cell phones in a prison. I think that is so dangerous, because like it says in the article, inmates can do their business inside the prison without nobody knowing.

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