Monday, February 9, 2009

John Cote's Eternal Vigilance

John Cote, of the Chronicle, has informed me that Friday’s public safety advisory, “The Price of Safety Is Eternal Vigilance,” may have been based on urban legend. Per Snopes, it's "Partly True."

We reported on two cases in which the perpetrators used the victim’s own technology to execute the crime. In one, someone's car is burglarized while they’re at a football game. The burglars steal the owner’s portable GPS unit and garage door remote. The burglars then use the GPS to navigate to “Home” (as stored in the device) and the garage remote to gain entry to the residence, which they subsequently burglarize. In the other, a woman’s handbag is stolen, including her cell phone. The thieve texts “Hubby” (as labeled in her contact list), asking to be reminded of their bank card’s PIN. Hubby responds with the PIN; the thieve pilfers the account.

Ever the naive soul, I had assumed this was just the usual cycle of life imitating HBO (The GPS scam was on Entourage, similarly to how our Community Safety Cameras were shot out a la "The Wire"). But both of these seem pretty imaginable scenarios. Indeed, the first is an upgrade on a low tech scam in which burglars snag residence information from the insurance paperwork in the glove box.

You’ll now have to excuse me while I wire some money to a Nigerian Prince.