Philadelphia Appeals Panel Rejects Warrantless GPS Tracking
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By Mark Abrams
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A federal appeals court in Philadelphia says police can’t attach GPS tracking devices on vehicles of criminal suspects without first getting a warrant.
This case involves the arrest of three brothers in 2010 who were charged in connection with a series of burglaries at Rite Aids in the region.
Police placed a GPS tracking device under the bumper of the van they believed was being used in the burglaries. They used it to find the trio after a burglary at one pharmacy and police stopped them nearby and found pills, cash and items believed taken from the store inside the van.
But the appeals court agreed with a judge’s earlier decision to toss out all the evidence saying police first needed to get a warrant before using the tracking device.
In a 2-1 opinion filed late in October, the court called the GPS device an illegal search.
The three brothers remain free on bail and have pleaded not guilty.
The prosecutor is weighing an appeal. He argues police acted in good faith in using the device and had sufficient evidence the trio was behind the burglaries.