Bank Robbery Thwarted by GPS

New-fangled credit card-sized gizmo foils three robbers

By Steve Bryant
|  Thursday, Jan 7, 2010  |  Updated 7:30 AM CDT
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These burglars' plan hit the bricks.

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Handy for directions...and foiling crimes.

Despite elaborate planning and near-perfect execution, a trio of bank robbing brigands in Calumet City were thwarted by a new feature in bank security -- a tiny, credit-card sized GPS device hidden in stolen cash, the Chicago Tribune reports.

This was the first time the device has been used in Chicago to foil a bank robbery, says the FBI, though they also used a similar device to help free a man being held for a $40,000 ransom in a South Side home last year.

Besides GPS, the device can broadcast cell-phone and RF signals which can be monitored by police.

In this instance, three suspects robbed a TCF Bank branch at 493 Torrence Ave. They fled to one of the suspect's home, but police were able to track them via two of the tracking devices, which had been slipped into the nylon bags the robbers carried off.

Police entered the home and found one of the suspects, a small handgun in a clothing bin and $8,789 in stolen bills behind a freezer. Also nearby: eight fake bills and the two tracking devices.

The news of the thwarted robbery comes at a time when Chicago is seeing fewer bank heists. Officials credit both increased surveillance and the closure of many far-flung suburban branches.

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