back to article Midlands police cuff war driving duo

Two people have been arrested and cautioned by UK police in the midlands this month after they were caught "war driving", in a rare example of prosecutions of this kind in the UK. Last Saturday a man in Redditch, Worcestershire, was arrested while using a laptop in a parked car after attracting the suspicion of neighbours. The …


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  1. Rich Bryant

    This is bollocks

    Unless the two punters they've nicked had sniffed and broken WEP, they weren't stealing in any definable or legal way.

    Rather, they were receiving an amateur broadcast from an unlicensed transmitter. Any pillock can work this out, which makes one kind of wonder exactly why the Old Bill don't go and do something a bit more bloody useful?

    Unless they were just nicking motorists again and needed an excuse.

  2. adnim


    Very careless, cardboard around the windows lol.

    What is more suspicious? a man stopped in a residential area using a mobile phone and a laptop, Or a vehicle with its windows blocked by cardboard, glowing inside?

    When war driving:Be obvious, like you should be there, wear a suit, talk on mobile while using the laptop and lastly smile, laugh occaisionally. Script everything you want to do that can be scripted, minimise the output window, open a spreadsheet. Don't forget the "I'm a wardrivin" bumper sticker.

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  4. Tony Humphreys

    ...and meanwhile

    kids are stabbing each other in the street.

    I am overjoyed the Police have so much resources to protect the stupid who cant even lock their (electronic) doors, never mind close them.

  5. Neil Drinkall

    Of course it's stealing

    "Unless the two punters they've nicked had sniffed and broken WEP, they weren't stealing in any definable or legal way."

    Of course it's stealing - if these people had a download cap on their broadband and someone comes along and downloads gigs of movies, then they are likely to be faced with a large bill for the excess, or find their internet access cut off.

    Just because their electronic front door is open doesn't give anyone the right to come in and nick stuff.

  6. Steven Walker

    Cardboard around the windows?

    If he was a real geek he would have used tin foil

  7. Rob

    It's obvious...

    "How do you know which allow use?"

    Well it's obvious isn't it. Did you pay for the service? No, then shuffle somewhere else. Is there a sign up saying "This is intentionally open for you to use"? No? Then sod off.

    I fully understand people wanting the stupid to be punished by the opportunistic, but that doesn't change the fact that they are stealing bandwidth. Just because the person that pays for that bandwidth is an idiot, it doesn't ACTUALLY mean they have to suffer at a more wiley opponents hands. After all - there will always be someone cleverer than you, no matter where you go.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An unlocked door is no barrier to entry...

    " I've heard people try to compare using others' wireless networks without permission with walking into their house because they left their door open, "

    And what's more, that's entirely legal. As long as you don't break anything or steal anything, and you leave if asked to do so by the householder (or any agent or employee), the English law is that you have done no harm and committed no crime, and the only possible legal matter would be a *civil* case for trespass if the owner wanted to take you to court.

    UK law is *very* different from US in this regard.

  9. Tim Bates

    That's a stupid comment

    "Well it's obvious isn't it. Did you pay for the service? No, then shuffle somewhere else."

    Oh dear... Another "you have to pay or you stole it" idiot. There is this word in the English language (and even in American). It's "free". Look it up.

    There are plenty of people out there wanting to give free internet access over wifi. At this stage there is no portion of the 802.11 standards devoted to defining an intentionally open free access service. And there is no means of making such a service obvious, other than the crude method of defining the terms and conditions in the SSID (a local supermarket does that here). Trouble is, there's a limit to how much a lot of devices and programs show of the SSID, and there's also a limit to how long the SSID can be.

  10. Bob Hannent

    With the right judge this should be challenged.

    The fact is that your WiFi is broadcasting what is effectively an invitation to connect. If you don't restrict your wifi connections it is literally asking to be used (not figuratively, literally). As for the argument about the theft of bandwidth, what about those people who want to share their connection. What about when I leave my wifi open and then just secure my local machines? As it happens I have security on because I don't trust the machines entirely.

    Previously I was without broadband while they got their act together and I have piggy-backed a connection or two to check my mails. But as long as you don't go browsing what is not yours to browse then there should be no issue.

    Lets take the legality back to the tap in the street. If you have a tap out on the street you expect that at some point someone might use it. If you are worried about that then put a padlock on it, if you aren't they let the public feed at will.

    Very few wireless routers don't come with security guidance on them now, so it's no great trouble to use it.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What if they were uploading?

    Lets say you were a paedophile with some nasty pics; how are you going to get them on the net? War driving is how; then some poor sap who hasn't secured his wireless network gets the police raid and all his equipment confiscated. Secure your network, you know it makes sense.

  12. Doc Farmer

    Hang 'em high, boys...

    "UK law is *very* different from US in this regard."


    We SHOOT trespassers. A man's home is his castle here.

    But, you have to come IN to the house for it to legally be viewed as trespass. If you're sitting outside in your car on a public street, you may be suspicious, but you're not breaking any law (except maybe loitering).

    If a homeowner isn't smart enough to secure his wireless network, s/he 1) shouldn't have a wireless network or 2) should get somebody to secure it for a few bucks/quid.

    By the bye, under this law, wouldn't it be illegal for those big (brother) BBC vans to come snooping around for TV sets without "licenses" (see also: TAX ripoffs)? Next time Auntie comes around sniffin' for that 10 inch B/W you've got hidden in the attic, call the fuzz...

  13. IanR

    If you made your house into a pub-lookalike...

    with an illuminated "Tennents" sign on the wall, etc.. Then you would have no legal grounds to arrest any members of the public you find on the premises, as it it is not necessary to seek permission to enter a PUBLIC house. On the contrary, it woud be your fault for sending-out a misleading message to passers-by.

    Likewise, a wireless connection which electronicaly advertises itself as being a public facility must surely fall into the same category. The fact that the owner is stupid enough to leave it like this is neither here nor there.

    I'm very concerned that these precedents could lead to molestation and harrassment of persons using laptops in cars for perfectly legitimate purposes. It's another case of protecting the stupid against their own stupidity, at the expense of eroding the rights of the public to do what is perfectly legal in a public place.

  14. Paul Hurst

    there is no unlocked door

    We always talk about 'breaking into' other peoples network, a digital trespass if you will.

    This applies on unsecured networks as well. People always use the comparison of leaving the door open or breaking into the house and connecting to the router.


    *if* you live in house where a neighbor is broadcasting a service, they are beeming information into your house. Not vice-versa.

    In the same respect if you have a walkie-talkie, its a public radio system, accessable by all.

    If i have a walkie-talkie in my house, should a neighbor use his and I hear it, i have done no wrong. Equally if i talk on the same frequency i have done no wrong.


    If a neighbor started hosing water over his fence into your garden and you bucketed it, you wouldn't be stealling.

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