Police scanner apps are criminals' latest tool

What if criminal suspects could gain a leg up on police by listening in on secure law enforcement radio transmissions via smart phones? That's already happening in Maryland, according to ThreatPost.

Law enforcement officials in the state are reporting that "criminal gang members and associates" are using websites such as radioreference.com and mobile apps including the 5-0 Police Radio Scanner to monitor police officers' moves. In a warning issued last month, the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center said officers in at least one incident had heard their radio transmissions over a suspect's smart phone.

The center warned that suspects can use the information gleaned from the app transmissions to plot their crimes, set up ambushes for police officers, or plan escape routes.

There were at least 20 scanner apps available for download as of 2010, the center reports. One of them, the 5-0, advertises access to several emergency transmissions, including police, fire, aircraft, railroad and marine frequencies, according to the center's warning.

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