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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Reader Comments

Thu, Jun 14, 2012

what is wrong with u ppl? if u dont want ur stuff heard a cb/radio is probly a bad choice of equipent. cant go locking ppl up just for being nosey.

Wed, Apr 25, 2012 z00m

I have an ideal for a police scanner, it incorporate the exact technologies with GPS technology and give the possessor a monitor to watch different cars passing by in traffic giving off these signals example: monitors a 4 block radius red dot on the screen represents possible police signal blue strange car misc signal and white the possessor of the device

Fri, Jan 27, 2012 C

This article is ignorant nonsense. If the comms were "secure", nobody but police would be able to listen. These are just open channels anyone can receive on any scanner. And in a free society what is wrong with that? There are far more law abiding citizens than there are criminals.

Tue, Jan 17, 2012

The scanner apps seem to be the problem. But I do not agree that law enforcement should encrypt all of their radio stuff. They should only encrypt in the situations where the criminals could be using the apps(robberies, burgarlies or standoff) think online broadcasts or apps should be banned or least limited.

Fri, Jan 13, 2012

Police scanner technology is about 40 years old and has been used by bankrobbers in several movies. The Washington, DC police department moved to encrypt all their transmissions soon after the Washington Post overheard radio traffic resulting from a drunk officer discharging his weapon at people over a traffic dispute. Now the MPD will be able to keep that kind of thing quiet. (http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/2011/08/officer-transgender-shooting-had-prior-alcohol-run-ins)

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