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No 'electronic trespass' in iPad tracking case

A magistrate has ruled there was no “electronic trespass” in the case of a Canberra man who used an app to trigger an alarm on his allegedly stolen iPad after he tracked it down to another man’s house.

The unusual case involves the Find My iPad app, accusations of “amateur sleuthing” and a hotly-contest order for fingerprints.

The iPad was allegedly stolen from Braddon in May and the owner used Apple’s Find My iPad service and a GPS to trace it to a townhouse in Forde several days later.

He walked around the house, looked in a window and set off an alarm on the iPad to confirm it was inside.

When police searched the property, they found the missing iPad in a safe in the garage.

Prosecutors went to the ACT Magistrates Court seeking a forensic order for the townhouse resident’s fingerprints, saying he was a suspect in two burglaries.


But the man fought the order.

His lawyer, Paul Edmonds, argued the original search warrant was based on evidence that was obtained unlawfully by the iPad owner, who had committed physical and electronic trespass.

The Forde man has not been charged with any offence.

Mr Edmonds had told the court the alleged victim physically trespassed on his client’s property by walking around the house and also trespassed electronically when he turned on the iPad alarm.

Prosecutor Keegan Lee had dismissed the claim as absurd.

In a decision handed down this afternoon, Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker said the iPad owner had not trespassed.

“He could just as easily have shouted out to a kidnapped child and listened to its reply,” she said.

She said if it were unlawful then most people would trespass daily by turning on the radio when it could be heard next door or by having wireless internet that could be received in a neighbouring home.

Ms Walker granted the forensic procedures application, ordering the Forde man to present himself to police and have his fingerprints taken.