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Suspected robber incriminated by Internet searches

In the movies, bank robberies are intricate schemes pulled off by sophisticated, yet flawed individuals who go to great lengths to avoid being caught by police. These elements make for great storytelling and iconic scenes (and sayings). In real life, however, bank heists are commonly conducted by people who are anything but criminal masterminds.

Such was the case of a woman who was arrested and accused of robbing a bank. According to police, the woman did not threaten tellers with a weapon. Instead, she only demanded money and left the bank after receiving an unspecified amount of cash. 

After reviewing surveillance footage, police identified the woman, whom they knew through an ongoing narcotics investigation. Later that day, authorities went to the home that was under investigation and found the woman, along with clothing matching what was seen on the surveillance video and the stolen cash.

Police also found a suspicious search history on a computer where they arrested the woman. Searches included “What happens if you rob a bank?” and “What happens if you rob a house?”

The story is important for a number of reasons. First it exemplifies the requirement that police have a warrant before entering a home to perform a search to find evidence of a crime. The report (provided by the HuffingtonPost.com) did not identify whether officers obtained a warrant to search the home, even though it had been under surveillance for a different crime. Also, it is unclear whether the computer in question was in plain view of (or in close proximity to) where the arrest was made.

While the evidence is certainly incriminating, it may be of no consequence if it was improperly obtained.

Source: HuffingtonPost.com, Accused robber searched for tips online, and forgot to clear browser history, October 14, 2013

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