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Author Topic: Can this be Done
TheMoMan
BlabberMouth, a Blabber Odyssey
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Icon 1 posted October 28, 2012 06:56      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Michigan is rural lots of open country, We also have a freeway shooter, roaming the open roads.

Would it be possible to pull Cell tower records and run them to look for a number that would seem to be near each of the twenty three shootings.

NCIS does this almost every show, however does the Michigan State Police have this ability?

How hard would this be to do?

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If it don't glow it ain't Ham Radio

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GrumpySteen

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Icon 1 posted October 28, 2012 09:52      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Technically, it would be possible if the shooter had a cell phone that was turned on and the phone company kept records of which phones were in the vicinity of the various cell phone towers and there were enough cell phone towers in the area to triangulate position based on signal strength.

If the phone companies were doing that, however, it would mean that they were tracking the physical location of every one of their subscribers on a continuous basis. The legal liability associated with such behavior is more than enough to prevent them from doing so.

What the phone companies do keep records of are all activity... calls, text messages, data usage. There's no liability there because everyone agrees that they have to keep records of those things for billing purposes.

Only if the shooter was making phone calls, sending text messages, browsing the web or otherwise actively using the phone just before or just after the majority of the shootings would there be records that could be correlated to find an identity. It's doubtful that the shooter would be using a phone that consistently.

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Worst. Celibate. Ever.

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted October 28, 2012 10:38      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
So far we have we have twenty five shootings one injury and a scared populace. I know that during the hunt for the Mail Box Bomber they tracked him down by knowing "his" cell number.

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If it don't glow it ain't Ham Radio

Posts: 5509 | From: Just South of the Huron National Forest, in the water shed of the Rifle River | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
GrumpySteen

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Icon 1 posted October 28, 2012 12:39      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think you're referring to the Unabomber. If that's the case, it isn't true.

Ted Kacynzki hated a lot of modern technology including cell phones and constantly spoke out against such things. It would have been highly unlikely that he'd have had one, much less used it often enough to be found with it. He lived in a cabin without electricity, too, so keeping a cell phone charged would be a bit of a challenge even if he wasn't opposed to them.

What actually happened is that Ted Kaczynski's brother figured it out. He hired a private investigator to investigate further, then hired an attorney to organize the evidence and contact the FBI. The FBI then sent a bunch of agents to Lincoln, NB to watch for him and then asked a local where he was and eventually went to the cabin and caught him.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Kaczynski#Search

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Worst. Celibate. Ever.

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dragonman97

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Icon 1 posted October 28, 2012 21:33      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Alternatively, by process of elimination, they might be able to track all the phones that /were/ in use at the time of the shooting(s) and look for phones in the same places that /weren't/ in use.

I have no idea how capable/incapable their systems are of doing such a thing.

OTOH, I was looking for something silly/stupid about 'image enhancers,' as I remembered a great spoof on that...and I found this instead:
http://www.weebls-stuff.com/wab/CSI/

Enjoy...or well, be mildly amused.
(Confession: I have /never/ seen a single episode of CSI or NC-whatever; I assume this is an apt satire, but can't be sure.)

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There are three things you can be sure of in life: Death, taxes, and reading about fake illnesses online...

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GrumpySteen

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Icon 1 posted October 28, 2012 23:35      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
look for phones in the same places that /weren't/ in use.
That's where the idea fails. The phone companies do not keep signal strength records for phones that aren't being used. They could, but that would then mean that every person with a cell phone is constantly having their location tracked. As soon as that became public knowledge, lawsuits would begin flying and they would lose a lot of money defending themselves (plus whatever slap-on-the-wrist they got in court, if any). So far it's not profitable enough to justify the risk, so they don't.

And here's all you need to know about CSI: Miami...
It opens with a crime scene investigation which end with Horatio Cane putting on his sunglasses and delivering a pun, then goes into the the opening with the song. Later on in the show, something like this or this may also happen.

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Worst. Celibate. Ever.

Posts: 6364 | From: Tennessee | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged
TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted October 29, 2012 05:18      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Uni-Bomber was caught by a tip from relatives, The Mid-West Mail-Box Bomber was caught by Cell Phone tracking, from a tip from friends and relatives.

Knowing that the Bill of Rights prevents the Gov. from spying, however business owns the networks.

They might and could present the State Police with tower usage during certain times.

Back when Cell phones first came about, The big hitter on tower sites here in NE lower Mi. Tracked everyone on his towers. If you were in his area and did not place a call he did not do anything, however if you took or placed a call he burned you for the days of roaming, in his area of service.

We spent a week along "The Sunrise Side" we did not use our phone until the last day. The Mrs wanted to call her mother. I told her do not use the Hotel phone, it will be cheaper to use the cell, WRONG When that guy got through with his roaming area charges and network charges it was way more than using the hotel phone would have been.

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If it don't glow it ain't Ham Radio

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted October 29, 2012 07:21      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by GrumpySteen:
The phone companies do not keep signal strength records for phones that aren't being used.

Yeah, but in theory, they don't need signal strength info.
If they just had list of what phones were linked to what towers (you don't need to make a call to be linked - the network does it automagically) then they could just look for phones that were connected to the nearest tower for each shooting. Any phones that show up at all or most of those locations would be 'probable cause' for a search warrant, which would probably find the gun, which ballistics could then match to shells found on the crime scenes.
And then, after the first commercial break, there's a plot twist...

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If you watch 'The History Of NASA' backwards, it's about a space agency that has no manned spaceflight capability, then does low-orbit flights, then lands on the Moon.

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GrumpySteen

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Icon 1 posted October 29, 2012 08:05      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Signal strength from the phone to the tower and from the tower to the phone figures into the determination of which tower a phone connects to. There is no way to separate the two.

Even if you could separate them, it would still mean that the phone company would be tracking the location of all users at all times and storing that information, just less accurately. The information is of virtually no use to the phone company and tracking users would open them up to a lot of legal liability, so they don't do it. Until it either becomes profitable for them to track users that way or it's required by law, they won't bother doing it.

Furthermore, if cell phone companies were doing this sort of tracking, we'd have already seen cases where it was used as evidence and the court records, which are open to the public, would reflect that. AS soon as that happened, there would be a a public uproar (see the iPhone tracking brouhaha from a couple years ago for reference... and that was something the user could control). Anyone committing a premeditated crime would either stop carrying a cell phone or carry a burner.

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted October 29, 2012 11:54      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
As each tower passes off a unit to the next tower there is a record made. That is how the network was first built, to track ROAMING.

The gentleman that put up many of the towers in NE Michigan had rate structures that he could prove that his system handled your phone data as you moved about his area.

He charged 95 cents a day for roaming and 95 cents a day for networking charges, then an access charge of Eight dollars per call plus 2.50 dollars a minute. If you complained to your carrier they passed it to him and he promptly sent you a copy of his filing at the Michigan Public Service Commission showing that the state allowed him to do this.

After being burned by him, I would use hotel or payphones to call my phone and access the voice mails.

This was back in the Late 1980's when the phones were large(Bag and Brick phones)they even had lead acid batteries.

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If it don't glow it ain't Ham Radio

Posts: 5509 | From: Just South of the Huron National Forest, in the water shed of the Rifle River | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted October 29, 2012 12:17      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
NEWS UPDATE

The Detroit Free Press

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If it don't glow it ain't Ham Radio

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted October 29, 2012 15:09      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by GrumpySteen:
if cell phone companies were doing this sort of tracking, we'd have already seen cases where it was used as evidence and the court records, which are open to the public, would reflect that. AS soon as that happened, there would be a a public uproar (see the iPhone tracking brouhaha from a couple years ago for reference... and that was something the user could control).

There have been a number of reported cases where criminals were caught using cell phone data. Usually, like this one the wording is pretty vague.

quote:
TFA:
Wright’s phone records were extracted which showed that his phone was, in fact, in the same area where the murder took place.

Did he make a call?
TFA is too vague for the reader to decide.


This article by the ACLU sounds like they keep the full tower location data, but it's vague enough to leave open the other interpretation.

quote:
ACLU:
As long as it is turned on, your mobile phone registers its position with cell towers every few minutes, whether the phone is being used or not – and mobile carriers are retaining location data on their customers.



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If you watch 'The History Of NASA' backwards, it's about a space agency that has no manned spaceflight capability, then does low-orbit flights, then lands on the Moon.

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted October 29, 2012 17:59      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
So it appears that it might be possible baring a Bill of Rights conflict?

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If it don't glow it ain't Ham Radio

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Ashitaka

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Icon 1 posted October 30, 2012 01:16      Profile for Ashitaka     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by TheMoMan:
So it appears that it might be possible baring a Bill of Rights conflict?

It may be possible in the future, they would have to start recording the locations before they can go search. it is not as if they can say well, we'll put the bill of rights on hold for this one case, check the records, and then go back to business as usuall.

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"If they're not gonna make a distinction between Muslims and violent extremists, then why should I take the time to distinguish between decent, fearful white people and racists?"

-Assif Mandvi

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted November 02, 2012 08:04      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I guess my question was not so far fetched!

Slate

Or search on FBI Stingray/ public right to know.

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If it don't glow it ain't Ham Radio

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GrumpySteen

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Icon 1 posted November 02, 2012 09:20      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Like I said, it's technically possible. The only obstacle is the inevitable lawsuits that would follow if the cellular service providers did it. The FBI is basically immune to such things, however, so they don't care. They developed Stingray specifically because it allows them to gather information that they can't get from the cellular service providers.

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Worst. Celibate. Ever.

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted November 02, 2012 11:14      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
When you look at the system and the shear numbers of devices connected at any given time, I am surprised that it works at all. Each subscriber is given a ten digit number then the system is looking at the Digi Serial numbers of each devise and then customers upgrade. Where is the central data point? It must be in the cloud, is it that rain cloud that just went by. Wait a minute that phone just left it's area code and is now in that code.

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If it don't glow it ain't Ham Radio

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GrumpySteen

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Icon 1 posted November 02, 2012 14:54      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
There are a number of standards, but GSM is well documented and will give you a good idea of how it works. The other standards operate in a similar manner, though they differ in the specifics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GSM_services

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Worst. Celibate. Ever.

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TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted November 02, 2012 15:49      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
With four major carriers and all their customers, it becomes less simple, there is a pecking order at each tower site #1 Contract Phones #2 Prepaid same carrier #3 Prepaid discount group of that carrier.

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If it don't glow it ain't Ham Radio

Posts: 5509 | From: Just South of the Huron National Forest, in the water shed of the Rifle River | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
GrumpySteen

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Icon 1 posted November 02, 2012 16:16      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
That's not explicitly covered, but it happens during this part:
If a mast can be successfully contacted, then there is said to be coverage in the area. The phone then identifies itself to the network through the control channel. Once this is successfully completed, the phone is said to be attached to the network.

When the cell phone sends a signal to a tower, the tower either doesn't respond, accepts or denies. If the tower doesn't respond or denies, the cell phone tries to contact other towers in whichever order the manufacturer programmed it to search. If the tower is at capacity, it will deny a signal. In your case, it seems that the towers were programmed to drop lower tier customers if a higher tier customer contacts the tower.

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Worst. Celibate. Ever.

Posts: 6364 | From: Tennessee | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged
TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted November 02, 2012 18:08      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Bingo, spot on. as told to me by a multi-brand service vendor, The premium contract users get front row seats, every one else is in the cheap seats.

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If it don't glow it ain't Ham Radio

Posts: 5509 | From: Just South of the Huron National Forest, in the water shed of the Rifle River | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted November 08, 2012 05:15      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Some time relatives turn you in.

ABC news

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If it don't glow it ain't Ham Radio

Posts: 5509 | From: Just South of the Huron National Forest, in the water shed of the Rifle River | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
GrumpySteen

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Icon 1 posted November 09, 2012 12:47      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
His mother didn't turn him in. She just confirmed his ID to the press after the arrest and said that she thought he was mentally ill.

Here's how he was caught:

Task force investigators re-interviewed victims over the weekend, and one witness remembered key details about the black, four-door car spotted during the crimes: A state-issued Michigan State University license plate with a green S on the left, surrounded by an MSU alumni license plate frame, according to State Police investigators.

A law enforcement source familiar with the investigation said investigators were able to track Casteel down through the Secretary of State once the details were narrowed down.

During a raid on his home Monday, police seized Casteel's car, which matches the description of the black four-door vehicle believed to have been used in the shootings. Michigan Secretary of State records show a 2009 Chevy Malibu registered in Casteel's name.


And to add to the fun...
A Twitter account that appears to belong to Casteel reveals a man engrossed in politics.

Some days, he would post dozens of comments. Posts called for President Obama to be impeached, called Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder a "traitor to the state" and complained about a sheriff's department in Kentucky, where he once lived, not taking seriously a complaint he had about military helicopters flying over his home.

A post dated Sept. 28 says, "The 2nd Amend is an absolute -- absolutely no compromises -- I carry everywhere I go!"


Here's the Twitter account in question

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Worst. Celibate. Ever.

Posts: 6364 | From: Tennessee | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged
TheMoMan
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Icon 1 posted November 09, 2012 14:03      Profile for TheMoMan         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
News accounts change through the day, at the time I posted most stations were saying that his mother had turned him in. The next day as the task force released more info the story changed.

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If it don't glow it ain't Ham Radio

Posts: 5509 | From: Just South of the Huron National Forest, in the water shed of the Rifle River | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged


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