Thief Makes Off With Van And $5,000 in Equipment, While Police Follow His Getaway With GPS

Thief Makes Off With Van And $5,000 in Equipment, While Police Follow His Getaway With GPS

By Fritz Klug
November 24, 2010

A van was stolen from the Comtronics parking lot Wednesday morning and GPS tracking helped get it back.

The van was parked in the back lot of Comtronics’ location at Washington Avenue and Cooper Street. A technician stepped inside and left the van running to warm up. Another technician drove into the lot around 7:50 a.m. and saw an unfamiliar looking man driving it out. He told his boss, Tim Walker, that someone unfamiliar was driving the van.

Walker called 911. But instead of telling the dispatcher what direction the man drove off, Walker provided his exact location. The technician had forgotten his GPS-enabled Blackberry in the van, and Walker could monitor its position from their office.

Comtronics, which sells electronic security systems and telecommunications equipment, uses GPS to track its employees’ locations during the workday.

The van is outfitted for installing security systems — there were a number of tools, alarm equipment, video surveillance equipment and wires, valued around $5,000.

Walker followed the man driving, telling the dispatcher the van’s position: from Liberty Street east on Page Avenue, south onto Wolf Lake Road and east on Orban Road in Grass Lake. They also monitored the van’s speed, which reached 90 mph.

When Walker stopped seeing movement on his screen, he thought the phone was thrown out the window. But when sheriff’s deputies arrived minutes later in the 10000 block of Orban Road, the man was loading the goods from the van into a small shed.

Police arrested Scott Cassidy, 30, said Jackson police Lt. Elmer Hitt. He was arraigned Wednesday on charges of car theft and receiving and concealing a stolen motor vehicle.

For John Campau, Comtronics president and CEO, it was exciting because a cell phone was able to track a crime in progress. “This is a great storyline for technology,” he said. “The cellular phone side of the business protected the alarm side of business.”

Reprinted with permission from The Jackson Citizen Patriot
Copyright November 2010.

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