Not only are the FBI still spying on American citizens for no particular reason, but they’re apparently so shitty at it that all it takes to find their “hidden” GPS devices is to get an oil change.
A California student got a visit from the FBI this week after he found a secret GPS tracking device on his car, and a friend posted photos of it online. The post prompted wide speculation about whether the device was real, whether the young Arab-American was being targeted in a terrorism investigation and what the authorities would do.
It took just 48 hours to find out: The device was real, the student was being secretly tracked and the FBI wanted its expensive device back, the student told Wired.com in an interview Wednesday.
The answer came when half-a-dozen FBI agents and police officers appeared at Yasir Afifi’s apartment complex in Santa Clara, California, on Tuesday demanding he return the device.
Afifi, a 20-year-old U.S.-born citizen, cooperated willingly and said he’d done nothing to merit attention from authorities. Comments the agents made during their visit suggested he’d been under FBI surveillance for three to six months.
Afifi, a business marketing student at Mission College in Santa Clara, discovered the device last Sunday when he took his car to a local garage for an oil change. When a mechanic at Ali’s Auto Care raised his Ford Lincoln LS on hydraulic lifts, Afifi saw a wire sticking out near the right rear wheel and exhaust.
Garage owner Mazher Khan confirmed for Wired.com that he also saw it. A closer inspection showed it connected to a battery pack and transmitter, which were attached to the car with a magnet. Khan asked Afifi if he wanted the device removed and when Afifi said yes, Khan pulled it easily from the car’s chassis.
“I wouldn’t have noticed it if there wasn’t a wire sticking out,” Afifi said.
Later that day, a friend of Afifi’s named Khaled posted pictures of the device at Reddit, asking if anyone knew what it was and if it meant the FBI “is after us.” (Reddit is owned by CondeNast Digital, which also owns Wired.com).
That’s pretty rich. “We can has our illicit GPS tracking device back plz?” Uh, only if you can explain how something that you attach to my car without my permission doesn’t become my property. See you in court.