Electronics Thieves Foiled by GPS Trackers

Their haul led the authorities right to them.

I have been a professional writer and reporter for more than 20 years, and I’ve been covering the industrial sector for nearly 15 of those years. And in all that time, I can honestly say that the following might be my favorite story ever.

The story starts and, basically ends, on July 6 of this year when thieves broke into a major shipping company’s overnight drop box. It’s assumed that these individuals thought they were swiping some high-tech electronics gear that they could re-sell.

Well, they weren’t completely wrong.

And while they were spotted by nearby cameras, the crew appeared to make a quick and clean getaway.

However, the high-tech electronics gear they stole was produced by Santa Clara, California-based Roambee, which describes itself as a provider of global supply chain visibility products.

Maybe you can see where this is going.

For days, the thieves drove around the Bay Area with 25 bright yellow GPS trackers that, before being stolen, had been on their way to a manufacturer of COVID-19 vaccines for use in tracking pharmaceutical shipments. 

The sensors in the trackers are able to communicate directly to the cloud, constantly updating their location in real-time.

According to a release by Roambee, officers at the Santa Clara Police Department were elated when they were informed that the thieves in question had stolen GPS devices, since they were able to obtain hourly location updates on their suspects as they traveled over 760 miles during the following 12 days.

This gave law enforcement more than enough time to not only prepare arrest warrants related to the initial crime, but obtain insight into several others during the thieves’ joyride. They were arrested, without incident, on July 18. 

Interestingly enough, Vidya Subramanian, VP of Emerging Technologies at Roambee, stated that, "This is not the first time that the company has had its trackers stolen. In 2017, burglars broke into our office and stole GPS tracking sensors, and were busted within hours of the incident.” 

Yet another benefit of supply chain visibility.

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