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Software solves burglary while Raleigh couple vacations in Aruba

Posted October 3, 2012
Updated October 4, 2012

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— The story of a break-in at a Raleigh man's home begins in paradise. Jonathan Moss and his new wife were honeymooning in Aruba when his landlord emailed some bad news.

There had been a burglary at the couple's home. An Apple laptop, a wedding gift to Moss from his wife, was stolen.

"We were really upset about it," Moss said Wednesday. "Then I thought, hold on, I installed this thing, this software."

An investigator was already on the job. The software, called Prey, can track a computer's location and even turn a laptop into a private eye.

"It takes a picture, using the webcam," Moss said.

Jonathan Moss Software solves burglary while Raleigh couple vacations in Aruba

The camera on his computer captured an image of a man he didn't know, later identified as Johnny Howard Fogg Jr., and the software pinpointed the man's location. It also allowed Moss to see the activity on his computer – another man checking email and searching Craigslist.

"(I thought), yeah, we are going to get this guy," he said.

He turned the information over to police, who arrested Fogg last week and charged him with possession of stolen property. Moss got his laptop back when he returned from Aruba.

Another computer and television taken from Moss' house have not been recovered.

But without Prey, Moss doubts he would ever have seen his computer again. 

"Police tell me it is really difficult to do in situations like these," he said.

41 Comments

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  • apnc2 Oct 4, 6:14 p.m.

    I use prey on all my devices, phone computers etc. Its free for personal use and is quite good.

  • ladyblue Oct 4, 4:46 p.m.

    what a wonderful idea..

  • kenshi Oct 4, 4:09 p.m.

    goldeagle, there are other software that do similar things and have been around for a while. Snoopers are a common software along with gps enabled devices. Its not the software that courts have problems with on occasion, its how it is used and by whom.

  • brassy Oct 4, 3:37 p.m.

    "He was going to track his wife's activity!!!"
    "He probably works for Prey and set this whole thing up so as to garner new business for the company."

    I needed a good laugh today.

  • monami Oct 4, 2:19 p.m.

    Awesome!

  • goldeagle Oct 4, 1:48 p.m.

    Mike H. In the case cited in the article, the victim provided evidence sufficient for the cops to have reasonable cause to get a warrant from a judge, effect a search, and make an arrest based on the results of that search. The cops were asked to do things within the limits of what cops do.

    The courts may or may not have considered the limits of the use of the computer as a sensing device in the event it is stolen. You stole my laptop and I'm running a porn website? There was a public outcry about school laptop cameras being activated remotely.

    The article does not consider several alternate scenarios.

    1. I know who has my laptop and where it is located. My buddies and I can go get it by force and make you wish you didn't have it.

    2. Prey software has a bug in it and you activate the WRONG LAPTOP, intentionally or by design. You then go to the cops or your buddies to retrieve your computer.

    --------------

    This is not a disinterested person doing the investigation.

  • jonlandrum Oct 4, 1:23 p.m.

    This was a nice commercial.

  • The Anti Hans Oct 4, 1:16 p.m.

    goldeagle: I doubt that the courts and the police will frown on this software. They effected an arrest this week because of it; that suggests that this is a good thing.

  • goldeagle Oct 4, 1:10 p.m.

    A few issues here.

    1. Serious privacy issues. Somebody uses your laptop and installs this without your knowledge. Or did you think that this wasn't already happening worldwide.

    2. Legal issues. This software appears to give you the technical ability to enforce your own laws. Judge, jury, and executioner. Yes, it was them and they deserved it, but the cops and the courts will still frown on it.

  • romneycare Oct 4, 1:01 p.m.

    Obama prevail is cracking me up!

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