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Stolen GPS Units

shelbysheriff 0 Points
edited November -1 in GPS Discussions
I work for the Shelby County Sheriff's Office in Memphis, Tn.

And for the record, I have very little knowledge of GPS units.

Long story short, we have an enormous amount of GPS units (mainly Garmin, Magellan, & TomTom) being stolen and/or pawned in the Memphis area and the tri-state area.

Our problem lies when people either a) don't report the unit as being stolen in thought that they believe it will not be found or make a difference or b) the serial number provided by the owner of the device is not accurate or they have not registered the unit to the manufacturer, so it is almost impossible to locate the owner.... the information provided by the pawn shops are inaccurate, if it is listed at all.

I've got a couple "newb" questions:

1. Is there a website in to report stolen units? If you did have one stolen, did you report it to a law enforcement agency or to the manufacturer or both?


2. Are there any identifiers, other than model/serial, that would pinpoint the owner?



Thanks in Advance.

Comments

  • infama 0 Points
    I work for the Shelby County Sheriff's Office in Memphis, Tn.

    And for the record, I have very little knowledge of GPS units.

    Long story short, we have an enormous amount of GPS units (mainly Garmin, Magellan, & TomTom) being stolen and/or pawned in the Memphis area and the tri-state area.

    Our problem lies when people either a) don't report the unit as being stolen in thought that they believe it will not be found or make a difference or b) the serial number provided by the owner of the device is not accurate or they have not registered the unit to the manufacturer, so it is almost impossible to locate the owner.... the information provided by the pawn shops are inaccurate, if it is listed at all.

    I've got a couple "newb" questions:

    1. Is there a website in to report stolen units? If you did have one stolen, did you report it to a law enforcement agency or to the manufacturer or both?


    2. Are there any identifiers, other than model/serial, that would pinpoint the owner?



    Thanks in Advance.
    There is some kind of registry in the UK Dont know about the US.

    For TomTom units, almost everyone would have registered in their website to use the software called HOME for update and maintenance purposes. HP does the same at www.ipaq.com

    Therefore both these manufacturers at least have the ability to link serial numbers with the owners.

    Also, many of these devices are password protected and have the owners name and address input in the device itself.
  • tomj03 0 Points
    2. Are there any identifiers, other than model/serial, that would pinpoint the owner?
    ** For TomTom , on the navigation screen, touch the satellite signal bars, then touch the tiny rectangle 'Version x.xx' you 'll see on top: DEVICE ID with two alphanumeric fields AAAAA AAAAA.

    ** For Garmin Handhelds you press MENU/MENU/SETUP/SYSTEM/MENU/SOFTWARE VERSION you will see at the bottom a 10 char numerical fields UNIT ID.

    That's the GPS equivalence of the S.I.N number. If a user don't register that information with the manufacturers, they cannot get warranty nor buy new maps.

    Other GPS may have different way to store this information. I doubt that you can remember all that, do you ? :D
  • Tim 1474 Points
    1. Is there a website in to report stolen units? If you did have one stolen, did you report it to a law enforcement agency or to the manufacturer or both?

    2. Are there any identifiers, other than model/serial, that would pinpoint the owner?
    1) There isn't a general/big one that I know of in the USA... perhaps I should start one. :)

    2) Yes... The "home" address listed in the GPS. When you first unpackage them one of the first things people will do is to program in their home address. This is listed as "Home" in the GPS. On a TomTom for example you could go Menu -> Navigate to -> Home.

    On a Garmin you would tap Where to -> Go Home.
  • 1. Is there a website in to report stolen units? If you did have one stolen, did you report it to a law enforcement agency or to the manufacturer or both?

    2. Are there any identifiers, other than model/serial, that would pinpoint the owner?


    1) There isn't a general/big one that I know of in the USA... perhaps I should start one. :)

    2) Yes... The "home" address listed in the GPS. When you first unpackage them one of the first things people will do is to program in their home address. This is listed as "Home" in the GPS. On a TomTom for example you could go Menu -> Navigate to -> Home.

    On a Garmin you would tap Where to -> Go Home.

    I agree, you should start one. It would be very valuable.

    Okay, so basically pawn shops are required to enter the items pawned with serial numbers, model numbers, etc...however, most are not honest.

    So, we are doing a "reverse" investigation in attempts to enter serial numbers into our database if any reports are filed. However, we have run into issues with the manufacturer either releasing information due to consumer privacy or merely speaking to someone who speaks English.

    In addition, our database only contains reports from Shelby County, where most individuals are stealing the units and driving into another county/state to pawn the item.

    Obviously a huge obstacle to overcome, but it seems that we are possibly missing something that could aid in the recovery of the stolen units back to the owner. Hopefully that made a little more sense. So any input or are we SOL? lol.

    Thanks for the replies btw.
  • gatorguy 325 Points
    Just a note for the Detective Division which may prove useful.

    Garmins's include an tracklog function, date and time-stamped, showing where the device has been. (Some others may as well) It might help establish where someone was, or where a vehicle had traveled at a specific time and date. If the nav was used after being stolen, I could see it being useful for finding the home of the thief, and a log of his travels.
  • We found two stolen gps units at one location merely based on the location provided! Thanks..


    Two questions about TomTom:

    1. Found the "home" address, but is there anywhere in the device that the owner's name would be located? I.E., if the individual did enter their name, where would it be?

    2. When looking at the log of the last destinations in the device, how do you find the address of that destination? I.E. Yesterday, the last location of the device (which is more than likely the address where the theft occurred) was a motel 6, but when I touched it, it went directly to a map to give me driving directions.

    Also, generally speaking, do individuals enter their phone numbers in these devices?

    Thanks.
  • Tim 1474 Points
    1) Possibly. On many of the models you can go to Menu -> Change Preferences -> (cycle through the next arrow) -> Set Owner. Here they can type in a few lines with their name, address, phone number, etc. I doubt a high percentage of people have done that.

    2) You could go to Menu -> (cycle through the next arrow) -> Browse Map -> Find -> Recent Destination -> then select the recent destinations. It won't show you the actual address, but it should zoom in on the map enough for you to figure out where it is.

    Most people probably don't enter their phone number into the device. The only time that is likely is when people have a Bluetooth enabled GPS for hands free calling and have paired it with their phone and downloaded their phonebook into the GPS.
  • infama 0 Points
    1) Possibly. On many of the models you can go to Menu -> Change Preferences -> (cycle through the next arrow) -> Set Owner. Here they can type in a few lines with their name, address, phone number, etc. I doubt a high percentage of people have done that.

    2) You could go to Menu -> (cycle through the next arrow) -> Browse Map -> Find -> Recent Destination -> then select the recent destinations. It won't show you the actual address, but it should zoom in on the map enough for you to figure out where it is.

    Most people probably don't enter their phone number into the device. The only time that is likely is when people have a Bluetooth enabled GPS for hands free calling and have paired it with their phone and downloaded their phonebook into the GPS.
    He could on a TomTom, tap navigate to, the recent destinations, and see a list of recent places travelled to. Chances are the home location would be one of them. Another way is to search thru favourites and custom POIs, work address should show up there. Finally, going thru the phonebook or call log should give either a reachable phone number for the owner or contact that can provide one.
  • So, if we were to obtain bluetooth capabilities, could we tap into any gps unit? Could those numbers be pw protected??

    And another newb question, lol...

    what does POI mean??

    Thanks
  • POI = Points of Interest

    As far as Bluetooth goes, the numbers aren't stored in the device, it merely reads from the phone.

    Basically, if you pair your phone with it the device will show YOUR contacts, not the ones from the owner.
  • POI = Points of Interest

    As far as Bluetooth goes, the numbers aren't stored in the device, it merely reads from the phone.

    Basically, if you pair your phone with it the device will show YOUR contacts, not the ones from the owner.

    Ahhhh, okay. So does the device save those numbers after the bluetooth has been used or it is only applicable when in use?
  • As far as I know there isn't a local database in the unit that stores the information, it just relays it from the phone.
  • Tim 1474 Points
    Actually they do keep a local database on the unit, cnauman. It takes a few seconds to a minute or so to retrieve that data from the phone so rather than fetch the data each time the GPS devices will store the data locally on the GPS.
  • Interesting... so it must keep different databases for each paired device since most of them support around 5 users.
  • Actually they do keep a local database on the unit, cnauman. It takes a few seconds to a minute or so to retrieve that data from the phone so rather than fetch the data each time the GPS devices will store the data locally on the GPS.
    So, where would this information be?? lol...

    And thanks again. I appreciate the help.
  • Are you really a sheriff or just trying to hack someones info out of their GPS?

    :shock:

    :D

    Even if you could get to it I doubt it's as simple as a text file, at least I would hope the info stored is encrypted.
  • Shelby County Sheriff's Office 901-545-5600 8)
  • Tim 1474 Points
    So, where would this information be?? lol...
    It depends on the device. On the TomTom models we have been talking about if it was there it would be under Menu -> Mobile Phone -> Phone Book.
  • Tim 1474 Points
    Are you really a sheriff or just trying to hack someones info out of their GPS?
    I can confirm based on the email address they are who they say they are.
    Even if you could get to it I doubt it's as simple as a text file, at least I would hope the info stored is encrypted.
    It is stored in a simple text file you can access via USB. I'm not sure how that is any more of a risk though since it is easier just to pull up the numbers by the menu system like I described above.
  • JeepLover 91 Points
    Ok let's say I have a TomTom One LE and I have registered it on Home. Can I find the Serial Number using Home without having the TomTom connected i.e. AFTER it has been stolen? If not, can we get this information from TomTom?
  • Tim 1474 Points
    Good question. I was just able to find a serial number for one of my TomTom devices looking through the files HOME had used. Specifically, if you look in the folder you have selected for HOME to user for backups, I have a file called 'Backup Info.ini' which contained the name of the backup, the device serial code, and the device type. There might be some other places as well.
  • Ok, another question....

    If a intelligent thief were to steal the gps unit and had access to software, could that information currently installed in the device be deleted/overwritten?
  • Tim 1474 Points
    Yes.
  • Nate 0 Points
    just a side note; I have the nuvi 250. I have a custom picture as my splash screen. Using a photo editor I have entered my email address. When the unit is turned on the screen appears with my email address prior to the PIN number prompt. Very easy to identify.
  • XopherN71 0 Points
    edited March 2008
    Mine just says:

    If found, please call:
    Shelby County Sheriff's Office
    901-545-5600


    8)

    They'll know where to find me :wink:
  • just a side note; I have the nuvi 250. I have a custom picture as my splash screen. Using a photo editor I have entered my email address. When the unit is turned on the screen appears with my email address prior to the PIN number prompt. Very easy to identify.
    hmmm. interesting. :)

    Thanks.

    We've actually ran into some issues with items with stored email addresses--most reverse email address search engines return no results and many do not frequently use the email address.
  • Mine just says:

    If found, please call:
    Shelby County Sheriff's Office
    901-545-5600


    8)

    They'll know where to find me :wink:
    I think I'd keep yours just for spite. lol, jk.
  • I think I'd keep yours just for spite. lol, jk.
    :D
  • YourFun2 0 Points
    Mine doesn't even say, If Found.

    It Says:

    Please Return or Call
    Name
    Address
    Home phone
    Cell phone
    Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

    I think the cell phone number is most important,
    especially if you are on a trip.

    Rich
  • Semo 0 Points
    Long story short, we have an enormous amount of GPS units (mainly Garmin, Magellan, & TomTom) being stolen and/or pawned in the Memphis area and the tri-state area.
    That is so true. I had Garmin Nuvi and a Alienware notebook stolen out of my van around noon beside of the Old Navy on Winchester on Labor Day 2006. The officer that took the report said it happens daily. I gave her the serial numbers but never heard anything else. There are so few Alienware notebooks around you would have thought at least it would have be noticed somewhere.

    Thanks for coming on this board and trying to help those of us that have had our GPS units stolen.

    Steve
  • Long story short, we have an enormous amount of GPS units (mainly Garmin, Magellan, & TomTom) being stolen and/or pawned in the Memphis area and the tri-state area.


    That is so true. I had Garmin Nuvi and a Alienware notebook stolen out of my van around noon beside of the Old Navy on Winchester on Labor Day 2006. The officer that took the report said it happens daily. I gave her the serial numbers but never heard anything else. There are so few Alienware notebooks around you would have thought at least it would have be noticed somewhere.

    Thanks for coming on this board and trying to help those of us that have had our GPS units stolen.

    Steve
    Thanks. That's what makes all of our efforts worthwhile.

    That area has definitely increased in crime over the past decade; used to be a very nice area.
  • Just an update...

    We have generated 9 cases from the information obtained on this website. Many other stolen gps units were identified, but lacked vital information for prosecution. :)
  • infama 0 Points
    Just an update...

    We have generated 9 cases from the information obtained on this website. Many other stolen gps units were identified, but lacked vital information for prosecution. :)
    Super!
  • Tim 1474 Points
    Wow, hey that is great!
  • Fschwep 0 Points
    Well... This reminded me that it was a good idea to enter my name and address into the welcome screen of my 60CSx. Useful thread. Getting all that text typed into it is a bit painstaking, but if it would ever help me getting it back when lost or stolen...
  • I don't feel adding my personal email/contact info to the splash screen will help my GPS be recovered. Any person stealing my GPS could/would easily reset the device. If they are stealing these devices, and making money, they would take the time to learn how to reset the GPS to the default configuration. It's not rocket science.
  • sussamb 791 Points
    No, but it might help if someone honest found it or the police recovered it :wink:
  • wbport 92 Points
    I like the splash screen Gary Hayman suggests, but would add a cell phone number to the email address that is displayed. This screen appears before the PIN can be entered.

    http://home.comcast.net/~ghayman3/garmin.gps/page5.htm#page5text
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