Internet crimes can take many forms. Identity theft, fraud, and online scams are just a few ways people have been known to use computers to perpetrate crimes. But "Internet crimes" is also a broad term, and a computer can certainly be used to perform a number of criminal activities. In California, for instance, four individuals were recently charged with computer crimes after allegedly using a computer to commit burglaries.
According to police, a team of four people used the Internet to locate personal information on several individuals, including one judge and an unknown number of public officials. Using this information, the accused persons allegedly burgled homes and committed other crimes of an undisclosed nature. Police claimed that they found jewelry, safes, and other types of property when the four people were arrested.
Authorities believe the group may be responsible for as many as 20 burglaries in California. In addition to the stolen property, police also found what they claim is a list of potential target homes, photos of homes, and other types of personal information that was downloaded from online database sources. A California police spokesperson said authorities believe the group used police scanners to assist in their get-away from burgled homes.
Whether or not these charges result in convictions for computer crimes remains to be seen. The court's decision will depend on how the court defines the illegal use of a computer. Additionally, because the accused persons allegedly targeted a judge and public officials, the charges may be upgraded from state to federal. If that occurs, these California residents will need an even stronger defense, one that effectively presents mitigating circumstances that could result in a reduction or dismissal of charges.
Source: The Republic, "Police say Southern California burglars used Internet, targeted public officials," Nov. 29, 2011