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By | John Leyden 18th April 2007 13:08

Midlands police cuff war driving duo

Cardboard camouflage ruse fails Wi-Fi 'thief'

Two people have been arrested and cautioned by UK police in the midlands this month after they were caught "war driving", in a rare example of prosecutions of this kind in the UK.

Last Saturday a man in Redditch, Worcestershire, was arrested while using a laptop in a parked car after attracting the suspicion of neighbours. The unnamed man attracted suspicion after he engaged in illicit surfing while parked in a residential area late at night. His attempts to put up cardboard around his car windows failed to stop residents spotting light from his PC through his back window. A woman was cautioned for similar war driving offences by West Mercia Police earlier this month, the BBC reports.

Two years ago a West London resident was fined £500 after he was caught trespassing on an unsecured wireless network. Gregory Straszkiewicz was sentenced to a 12 month conditional discharge after being found guilty of "dishonestly obtaining an electronic communications service".

Police and ISPs say homeowners need to secure their wireless networks in order to prevent such trespasses. In theory, Wi-Fi trespassers might be prosecuted under the Computer Misuse Act for offences punishable by up five years' imprisonment, but so far police have preferred to apply dishonesty laws.

That raises potential difficulties in some cases because it's sometimes difficult to tell private but unsecured networks from free Wi-Fi zones users are allowed to use. Such a defence is unlikely to cut much ice if you're huddled in your car surrounded in cardboard and surfing for porn, or some such illicit activity though. ®

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