Law enforcement in one Los Angeles suburb has taken a preemptive approach to the growing menace of drug store robberies involving common commodities, like cough syrup.
Police in Tustin, California decided to employ the aid of modern technology following a string of pharmaceutical thefts this year. GPS tracking, often used to locate stolen bikes, cell phones, delivery packages, and more helped investigators pinpoint a bottle of medicine recently stolen off a neighborhood drug store shelf.
Several months ago, a GPS device was secured inside a bottle of cough syrup at Creative Compounding Pharmacy on Newport Avenue. The device operates as an invisible tracking unit and alerts police to its exact location.
How does it work? Ping technology uses Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP), a diagnostic tool that checks if a host in a network is alive and responding. In this case, the bottle of cough syrup was the host.
Once the tracker was planted, the bottle sat on the store shelf for several months before finally pinging law enforcement. Within days, two suspects, Willie James Clark, 21, of Roland Heights and Brian Vega Salinas, 20, of La Puente were followed, surveilled, and eventually apprehended on suspicion of committing the Nov. 10 burglary.
More than 100 arrests have resulted from the use of GPS devices by the Tustin Police Department, which issued this statement:
“The technology allows us to secrete the system in a variety of items and is only limited by our imagination. We will continue using this technology as we want every criminal who is considering stealing something in our city to wonder if a GPS device is hidden inside.”
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