Mobile Wi-Fi: How a wireless router helped catch a thief

When a crook stole a transit-authority maintenance vehicle, the IT team hit the road and tracked it to a local chop shop.

car chase
Shutterstock / Pavel Chagochkin

As an IT pro, it’s not often that I get to tail a suspect, track down a stolen vehicle and provide digital evidence of the thief’s getaway. But that was all part of a day’s work as some colleagues and I kept tabs on the hijacked maintenance truck and ultimately recovered it with the help of a GPS-enabled mobile router.

It happened last summer, and I was on the job the IT department of the transit authority I work for when word came in that one of our maintenance vehicles was stolen.

The worker on the truck left it running when he stepped out of the vehicle to check what needed to be done at a city bus stop, and an opportunistic thief drove off with it—a six-figure heist given the value of the truck plus the maintenance gear it carried.

The worker called it in to our dispatchers, who got on the phone with police dispatchers, who notified patrol units in hopes of getting eyes on the truck. 

Meanwhile, what our dispatcher and the thief didn’t know is that the truck was equipped with a Cradlepoint mobile router that features GPS. So I was immediately able to pull up its location using the Cradlepoint NetCloud app on my cell phone, and I began giving live updates every few minutes to our dispatcher, who relayed the information to the police.

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