Los Angeles Sheriff's Office and District Attorney

Vacation Notices: A Target for Residential Burglary

The Case

A group of subscribers to the L.A. Times newspaper were targets of home burglary while they were on vacation. With very little physical evidence collected from the homes, one of the thieves was stopped for a traffic violation in June 2012. In the car, police discovered stolen property along with an L.A. Times “vacation hold” list containing names, addresses and dates that their subscribers were scheduled to be on vacation.

The Challenge

The detective on the case had requested cell phone records for all 8 suspects, but had no way of analyzing or presenting the data he received from the mobile carriers. The detectives believed that this group of suspects were working together to carry out this series of burglaries. What they needed to prove was that the suspects conspired together to commit these burglaries and that they were present at the victims’ homes while they were vacant.

How GeoTime Helped

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office contacted the GeoTime Team for assistance in performing a full analysis on the 8 suspects’ phone records and preparing materials for court presentation. Having supported hundreds of similar cases involving call records, the GeoTime Team was able to quickly map out and analyze thousands of calls and SMS messages sent and received by the suspects. The resulting map showed a repeating pattern where the suspects converged at the target home late at night during a period of time while the victims were away.

After presenting the material to the District Attorney, Curtis Garton from the GeoTime Team was asked to testify as an expert witness at the grand jury hearing in 2013, leading to a criminal court case in 2014.

GeoTime Features Used

  • Formatting of call records
  • Mapping and animating of suspect movements
  • Connecting suspects together based on their call records
  • Creating video and PowerPoint presentations

The Result

The cell phone records evidence clearly showing how the suspects communicated together on their mobile devices to conspire to commit these crimes. Five defendants entered no contest pleas and three men were convicted by a jury trial.

Screenshot - Link Analysis of many suspects, showing how they are connected to each other

“GeoTime was essential to mapping out all the phone data and demonstrating that each suspect had the same movement pattern, proving they all arrived at the vicinity of the crime scene. Specifically, the link analysis feature was able to prove that some suspects communicated with one another leading up to each burglary and that all suspects were either directly or indirectly linked to each other. This demonstrated to the jury that there was intent and conspiracy.”

-Mark Inaba, Deputy District Attorney, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office