The controversy stems from the arrest of James L. Thomas, a criminal suspect believed to be in possession of a stolen phone. Tallahassee police located and arrested Thomas by tracking a cell phone signal, then promptly searched his home. It later became known that police didn’t seek a warrant or admit to using a little-known surveillance device called a “Stingray.”
Stingrays are small mobile devices that trick cell phones into connecting to them as if they were cell phone towers. The technology gives police the ability to track phone movements and intercept both phone calls and text messages of any cell phone within range.
If FedGov can afford to give away thousands of MRAP as urban assault vehicles, certainly stingray devices and software are trivial.