Search of Cell Phone Helps Identify Intruder


Search of Cell Phone Helps Identify Intruder

A Marin County woman was awoken by an intruder in her bedroom.   When she awoke the suspect was photographing her with his cell phone as he attempted to sexually assault her.   The suspect fled the scene and the victim called 9-1-1.  Officers detained and later arrested the suspect as he was leaving the area of the incident.  

The suspect was in possession of a cell phone at the time of his arrest and officers believed that his phone contained evidence of the crime.  The phone was locked with a user applied passcode and the suspect would not supply the unlock code. 

Officers obtained a search warrant to search the phone.   An attempt was made at the Police Department to search the phone using commercial mobile forensic tools but they found that this phone could not be unlocked with that device.  The phone was submitted to the NC3TF for Forensic Analysis.  

Detectives at the NC3TF were able to unlock the phone by using a more advanced technique referred to as JTAG.  This is accomplished by disassembling the phone and connecting directly to the phone’s microchip through the “JTAGs.”   The Joint Test Action Group (JTAG) is the common name for standard test access ports found on many mobile devices and is used by manufacturers to test printed circuit boards. Through this technique the NC3TF examiner is able to by-pass some of the phones security features and obtain the un-lock code.  After the unlock code was obtained, the phone was unlocked and the contents were examined with commercial mobile forensics devices.

In this particular case after the phone was unlocked and downloaded the photographs of the victim taken while in her were found and, video taken through her bedroom window from outside the residence was also found.    Without the advanced capabilities of the NC3TF this phone would have never have been unlocked and the evidence never found.

The prosecution of this case is on-going.

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