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Mercedes-Benz ignores two court orders to track hit and run driver before complying July 16, 2007

Posted by Rich in : GPS tracking and privacy,GPS tracking and public safety,GPS tracking law,GPS vehicle tracking , trackback

Last Tuesday night, 24-year-old Elizabeth Sandoval was killed by a hit and run driver in Glendale, California. Thanks to witness descriptions, the car and license tag were identified. Last Friday, Glendale Police Chief Randy Adams…

…admonished Mercedes-Benz of North America for refusing to comply with a court order to activate the car’s standard Global Positioning System so that authorities might pinpoint the sedan’s exact location.

“It’s one of the most frustrating thing in my 35 years of law enforcement,” he told reporters.

A court order police obtained at 2:30 p.m. Friday was faxed to Mercedes-Benz North American headquarters in New Jersey and to the company that provides the global positioning satellite service, Irving, Texas-based Tele-Aid.

A second court order was rebuffed as well before Mercedes-Benz of North America complied. The car was recovered (but not the suspect) only after Mercedes complied with the court orders. Perhaps a more timely response would have yielded the suspect as well.

It makes you wonder what kind of policy companies have on releasing GPS tracking information to law enforcement officials. Personally, I am amazed that they refused to comply.

Via Digg.

UPDATE: A couple of submitted (but unpublished) comments caused me to publish a comment policy.

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1. Brother Big - July 16, 2007

Its very unfortunate what happened. However would Cheif Adams be complaining if the suspect was driving a Yugo without GPS tracking? What would be his excuse then? Private citizens purchase such technology to benefit themselves, not to make it easier for law enforcement to track them.

Maybe we should all purchase such tracking devices with our own money so we’ll be easier track down. We’ll just say its to protect the children from pedophiles, that way its certain to be law.

Oh wait, we already to purchase such tracking devices, our cell phones.

2. Rich - July 16, 2007

Actually, we already pay for lots of things that help them track us down — license tags, etc.

While I think there are cases where police surveillance and tracking is way over top, this one isn’t. There was vehicular manslaughter and a court order to obtain the tracking info. Personally, I’ve got no problem with it.

3. evhershey - July 16, 2007

Leave it to a German company to finally protect American privacy guaranteed by our constitution.

Here’s a reminder:
The 4th amendment to the US Constitution
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

4. Qua67bau - July 17, 2007

Thank goodness for the Germans for helping us protect our privacy. Too bad they don’t make any hardware used in the White House!

5. John - July 17, 2007

Way to go Mercedes!!!!! F the government

6. Legal Beagal - July 18, 2007

You’d feel different if it was your wife or daughter that was killed. It might take something like that to make think before insulting the deceased’s family in their time of grief.

7. John S. - July 21, 2007

Yes, but you’d always feel differently if one of your loved ones was concerned. That’s no way to objectively view or judge a situation — instead, it’s the fear-mongering equivalent of “do it for the children”, which, I’m afraid to say, has done a lot of harm to this country since 9/11.

Personally, I appluad Mercedes’ decision to protect their customer’s privacy. I can only assume that they had to consult with counsel (which, contrary to popular belief, is process that typically consists of more than a five-minute phone call).

All the coulda-woulda is pure a simple speculation. Nothing more. Unless the car was stolen, they shouldn’t have too much trouble finding the registered owner. And let’s not forget that there are plenty of cars out there that do not have GPS tracking. OMG!1! There should be a law against that!!1! Except, that we, the people, do have 4th amendment rights and we should start insisting that the government respect them!

8. Steve - July 23, 2007

evhershey: wouldn’t the *court order* have taken into account the constitution’s provisions that searches be reasonable and with probable cause?

9. alex - July 30, 2007

complete BS. I expect Mercedes didn’t cave because it was the right thing to do, they caved because the second court-order probably had some financial pentalty. They have no business ignoring a court order – period. I was shopping for new suv for the wife and seriously considered Mercedes – until this story broke. Now she drives the Lexus. They’ve lost my business forever

10. mmac - January 11, 2008

You have got to be kidding me …. iv’e paid for my tracking device(cost of a mercedes benz) and now to have it used against me …. they already use cell phones to trac us (i am in telecoms) who will gurantee that this information will not fall into the “wrong hands” privacy needs to be enforced ALL the time and not played with

11. dont worry about it - February 22, 2008

You wouldn’t have it used against you. You would have it used against people that KILL other people. PEOPLE are more important than STUFF period! Mercedes Benz owners couldn’t grasp that concept anyway.

12. Glenda - February 23, 2009

I own a Mercedes-Benz. If I were to use my vehicle to take someone’s life and to cause a lifetime of heartache to that person’s loved ones; then I would expect to be hunted down like. You can’t go out and kill someone and expect Mercedes to hide your identity or your whereabouts. I’m disgusted with some of the comments posted. I’m disgusted with Mercedes-Benz, as well. And, yes, I would buy another Mercedes-Benz