After years of getting off scot-free on a series of nearly 30 home burglaries, two New Jersey and New York men were recently convicted of their crimes following location evidence provided by their own cell phone records. The men in question, 43-year-old Daniel Gatson of North Bergen and 36-year-old Anthony Hanks of Brooklyn, were accused of theft worth up to $3.4 million over a period of several years from 27 different homes along the east coast.
These two men weren’t the only ones charged in the case; four others had pleaded guilty earlier in the proceedings and also testified against Gatson and Hanks. They targeted high-end homes by cutting phone lines and alarm wires, taking jewelry, watches, cash, and other valuable items. Tracked by a specialized FBI task force, they were finally caught due to the police tracking Gatsons’ cell phone records, which provided the police with a digitized map of his movements over the months, much of which paired up exactly with many of the major home break-ins that the police already had on file: it was as simple as matching a footprint. According to US Attorney Paul Fishman, the burglars used cell phone calls during every one of the home invasions, including keeping the phone line open with a co-conspirator waiting outside in the getaway vehicle.
The cell phone technology used to corner Gatson and Hanks had been used throughout the country in several other high profile arrests. The way it works is that all cell phones are constantly looking for a signal unless they are off or in airplane mode, and the phone records where the closest cell phone towers are for them to retain service without draining battery life. For smartphone users, the evidence is even more damning: all iPhone and Android smartphones contain a GPS chip that helps in geotagging your social media posts, but can also be used to record where your phone is constantly.
If this technology sounds somewhat unnerving, you’re not alone. In this case, convicted Gatson argued that going through his cell phone records was a violation of his constitutional rights and an unlawful search and seizure. He and Hanks are facing up to 10 years in prison for their role in the string of heists, which for Gatson began only days after completing a different 10-year sentence for burglarizing the home of former NBA star Patrick Ewing.
If you are in need of a serious and experienced criminal defense lawyer, look no further than our services here at The Law Offices of Leon Matchin, LLC. I can provide you with expert counsel on your case, and would be happy to provide you with a free phone consultation today. Give us a call at 877-390-2998 to learn more about how I will work to protect your rights, and do not risk going before a court alone. I serve residents of Middlesex, Monmouth, and Mercer County, as well as a number of additional area communities, and look forward to adding your name to my list of satisfied and successfully represented clients.