In a recent opinion by Florida’s Fifth DCA, the Court reversed a trial court order suppressing evidence leading to the location of stolen computers and the arrest of the defendant, Ramon Luis Oliveras. In State v. Oliveras, 5D09-4197, the victim owned two computers which she packed in her luggage for a flight from Houston to Orlando. When she discovered that her computers had been stolen, she contacted a company, Absolute, from which she had purchased software that had the ability to track the location of the computers. She requested Absolute to give to the police any information as to the location of the computers and the identity of the computer users. Eventually, Absolute was able to track one computer to the residence of Oliveras. The police learned that Oliveras worked for a baggage delivery service at the Orlando airport, obtained a warrant, and arrested Oliveras. The police also recovered the victim’s computers at his home.
In the opinion reversing the order of suppression, the Court reasoned that the police use of the computer software tracking information did not constitute an illegal search or seizure because the information was provided voluntarily to the police by Absolute, at the request of the victim. The Court noted that the case was unlike those where the police install tracking devices because here, the victim opted to install the tracking software herself. The Court also noted the long standing rule that the protections against illegal searches as seizures do not apply where the search or seizure is performed by a private individual.
The Court also rejected Oliveras’ argument that the police were required to obtain a search warrant for the computer information under Florida statute section 934.23(1) because under Florida statute section 934.22(2), the victim was entitled to the information, and she requested Absolute to provide it to police.
Want to learn more about Absolute computer tracking software? Visit the Absolute Software website here.