Lake Charles tech company helps bust Wyoming crime ring

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

Work by a Lake Charles information technology company last month led to the arrest of five Wyoming men who are accused in

more than 40 burglaries and the theft of more than $30,000 worth of property over an eight-week period.

Paul Hite of InfoTECH Solutions in Lake

Charles said he was contacted by an employee at Aerion Rental Services,

a Lafayette-based

oilfield equipment rental company, whose laptop was stolen from an

employee’s vehicle during the night of Oct. 3 in Wyoming.

Aerion Rental Services has a remote user located in Wyoming where the burglary took place.

Hite said once he was alerted about the theft, his first concern was “privacy and data protection” of the user.

“For Aerion, the laptop contained potentially sensitive information,” Hite wrote in his company blog. “We knew there may only

be a small window in which to act.”

InfoTECH staff assembled an application that would “purge all sensitive documents and e-mails from the computer and report

back some basic details about its status,” Hite said.

“The application was scheduled to run

the next time the device checked in to InfoTECH’s control servers. We

anticipated the

device would be left offline and inaccessible for a long period

before it was sold to an unsuspecting buyer,” Hite said. “I

was very surprised to get an alert that same evening indicating it

was online — and being actively used.”

Hite said once technicians were confident that the data had been wiped, they moved to the second phase — attempting to track

the laptop.

Hite said a series of open-source

applications were pushed down to the laptop, the most important of which

was an anti-theft

tool. InfoTECH could then perform several actions, including

monitoring the screen, activating the webcam, and gathering data

about nearby WiFi hotspots, Hite said.

“Over the next week, InfoTECH worked with local authorities to track down the suspect,” Hite said. “Through the user’s Facebook

activity, the suspect’s name and acquaintances were easily learned. The webcam also silently snapped photos for evidence.

But most important was the WiFi data, which could be coupled with a service from Google to provide an approximate, and in

this case, exact, location of the laptop.”

Hite said because of the high number of WiFi hotspots in the small residential neighborhood in which the thief operated, the

coordinates provided matched exactly to a specific address.

“The address provided was matched to a

known acquaintance that InfoTECH had identified based on the suspect’s

Facebook profile,”

Hite said. “Once the information was passed to authorities and a

warrant was obtained, the local police department acted swiftly.

They searched the home and found not only the laptop, but many

other stolen items as well.”

Other items stolen included firearms, TVs and GPS devices, according to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.

“This was an isolated incident through permission from authorities,” Toby Leger, also with InfoTECH, told the American Press on Monday. “This is not something InfoTECH normally does.”

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle also reported that the men were dubbed the “Garage Door Bandits” by Cheyenne Police detectives because they frequently stole

garage door openers to access residential garages.