iPad thief accuses victim of digital "trespass by radio wave"

We've all heard stories about people taking advantage of iDevice's built in GPS tracking feature to reclaim their stolen devices. But as cool as going detective and tracking down whoever took your beloved machine from you might sound, it could land you in hot water, as one Australian man recently learned.  

Stopping short of going vigilante and taking back the iPad for himself, the man used his 'Find My iPad' app to locate his stolen device and let police know its whereabouts. That led the police to the Canberra home of Alden Harder, and a stash of stolen goods that even included a police badge.

That sounds pretty clean cut, but here's where it gets weird - Harder's attorney is accusing the iPad's owner of 'trespass by radio wave.'

Maybe the thief needs a tin foil hat as well?

The prosecution, meanwhile, is calling that absurd. If using his iPad's GPS functionality constitutes trespassing, the prosecutor says, ''I would safely say nearly everybody in this courtroom has committed that act by having a wireless router," since there's no way to keep the wireless signal from transmitting onto neighboring properties.

And regardless of that, the prosecution also says that even if using the GPS functionality was trespassing, the victim was completely within his rights by tracking down the iPad, since he had a reasonable suspicion as to where it was being held.

Regardless, it'll be interesting to see how the case turns out, since it could set a precedent for what constitutes trespassing, at least according to Australian law. And while it definitely sounds reasonable to take advantage of GPS tracking to find stolen property, it's worth bearing in mind that every right has the potential of abuse, too.

Source: Cranberra Times via: PC Advisor
...you know, so they can't read your mind... image by Shutterstock

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19 Comments

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Australian courts aren't ****ing stupid like the USA courts, so this will be thrown out by a magistrate, and the dude will be fined/jailed for stealing.

10/10 and respect to his lawyer for creativity in devising this argument.
0/10 and disrespect to him for total lack of judgment in actually running it.

gb8080 said,
10/10 and respect to his lawyer for creativity in devising this argument.
0/10 and disrespect to him for total lack ..of judgment in actually running it.

... because running it indicates his client's total lack of remorse for the crime.
Hope he gets a longer sentence than he otherwise would do, as a result.,

This story has the feel to it of one of those ones you'd hear people say "Only in America" too... yet it is in Aus... odd

If the victim had planted the iPad on the thief deliberately, then perhaps the thief might *MIGHT* have a case. However, the thief took the iPad, when it is now common knowledge that such devices may be remotely accessed and tracked. He either knew it was possible, or it was reasonable to expect him to know, as such he effectively invited the person's RF onto the property when he took his iPad.

I believe this is covered by the well known dogma of 'don't start nothin, won't be nothin!' .

Xepol said,
If the victim had planted the iPad on the thief deliberately, then perhaps the thief might *MIGHT* have a case. However, the thief took the iPad, when it is now common knowledge that such devices may be remotely accessed and tracked. He either knew it was possible, or it was reasonable to expect him to know, as such he effectively invited the person's RF onto the property when he took his iPad.

I believe this is covered by the well known dogma of 'don't start nothin, won't be nothin!' .


That is exactly what I was thinking.

What a ridiculous claim. Whoever said it should be shot

Pretty sure it's only trespassing in most legal systems when you don't have a lawful reason to be there. I'm again pretty sure that trying to get back your own stolen property is a lawful reason.

This is like, chasing somebody that mugged you on the street into their home and then getting accused of burglary. It's silly.

siah1214 said,
Wow, seriously? You can't recover stolen goods now without violating the criminal's rights? That is such crap.

You might find by reading, that the defence accused the guy of trespass.

That doesn't mean it is, merely that he was accused. Until the court hands down a ruling, this is nothing.

articuno1au said,

You might find by reading, that the defence accused the guy of trespass.

That doesn't mean it is, merely that he was accused. Until the court hands down a ruling, this is nothing.

I doubt it'll go anywhere, the prosecution is siding behind the ipad owner, and the guy is in such hot water that he'll be in jail for quite some time to come. It'll likely get thrown out if it goes to court.

articuno1au said,

You might find by reading, that the defence accused the guy of trespass.

That doesn't mean it is, merely that he was accused. Until the court hands down a ruling, this is nothing.

I'm not sure about Australia, but in the US the police can act on information that was illegally obtained...just so long as the police didn't illegally obtain the information.

So this alone wouldn't get a warrant to search his property invalidated in the US. It might mean that the victim faces separate charges.

siah1214 said,
Wow, seriously? You can't recover stolen goods now without violating the criminal's rights? That is such crap.

This so reminds me of cases over here where someone has broken into a persons home, threatened them and they have responded in self defense and THEN they have been punished for it. Such a messed up justice system we have - where the criminals have rights even while violating other peoples!

Well, let's see how it plays out. Common sense dictates that tracking down your own stolen property should be allowed and if the ruling comes back otherwise then that represents an obvious failing in the justice system.