Entries in Cellphone (12)


Drivers Know Cellphone Use Dangerous, Use Them Anyway

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- While most drivers understand the dangers of using electronic devices while behind the wheel, a large percentage use them anyway, according to a survey released by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

According to the survey, released as part of the NHTSA's recognition of April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, approximately 660,000 drivers used cellphones or manipulated electronic devices while driving during daylight hours, numbers that have held steady since 2010.

While fiddling with a stereo or iPod is dangerous and distracting while driving, according to the NHTSA, texting and hand-held cellphone use were considered more dangerous and have garnered more attention from recent surveys and studies.

The NHTSA survey also found that 74 percent of drivers support a ban on hand-held cellphone use, while 94 percent believe texting while driving should be outlawed. On average, these drivers believed the fines for these offenses should be at least $200, according to the report.

Texting while driving is currently outlawed in 39 states and the District of Columbia. Hand-held cellphone use is outlawed in 10 states, and the District of Columbia.

Wireless provider AT&T released a texting while driving survey of its own last month. Ninety-eight percent of the drivers it polled also said they understood the dangers of texting while driving.

Despite the fact that almost all drivers surveyed by AT&T said texting and driving was dangerous, 43 percent of teenage drivers said they still did it, while 49 percent of older commuters admitted the same.

"Many drivers see distracted driving as risky when other drivers do it, but do not recognize how their own driving deteriorates," NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said in a statement. "I urge all motorists to use common sense and keep their attention focused solely on the task of safely driving."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Cellphone Video Reveals Florida Teen's Plan to Blow Up School

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Cellphone video just released by prosecutors offers a chilling view into the mind of a Florida teenager who in 2011 was charged with plotting to kill teachers and students with bombs at his Tampa high school.

Jared Cano, then 17, wrote a manifesto that detailed his plans for an attack in August 2011 on the first day of classes at Freedom High School in Tampa, Fla., from which he had been expelled in March 2010.  Police arrived at the home where Cano lived with his mother to arrest him.  In his home, police recovered bomb-making material, including fuses, timers, shrapnel, accelerant and plastic tubing.

In the recently released video, Cano outlines -- to the minute -- his plans to blow up Freedom High School.

"For those of you retards who don't know who I am, I'm the Freedom High School shooter in Tampa, Florida.  Well I will be in a couple months," Cano says on the video.  "My plan is to set a bomb here at point A, here at point B, point C and point D.  Then I got to get to the side entrance of the school by 7:24.  The bombs blow at 7:26."

Cano never got the chance to go through with his deadly plan because a friend tipped off police and he was arrested.  In addition to the bomb-making materials at his home, investigators found a manifesto and illustrations detailing his plans.

"We were probably able to thwart a catastrophic event," Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor said.

The newly released cellphone video shows that Cano not only intended to kill as many students as possible, but that he specifically targeted two teachers who Cano said did him wrong.

"[I'll] Come through the door then shoot everybody at the front desk," he says on the video.  "Mr. Costanzo's office is right here, I've got to kill him.  Mrs. Carmody is here I've got to kill her.  Mr. Pears is here, I've got to make sure he doesn't die, because I like him."

At times during his boastful rant, Cano smokes marijuana.  In the clip, he says that he would retrieve a stash of weapons hidden near the school and come back in.

"I'm going to come in and advance on the courtyard where there'll probably be at least sixty people," he says.

While he lays out the details of his master plan, Cano also offers a solution to stopping him and others like him.

"If you don't like it," he says, "just find a way to find people like me and just line us up and shoot us."

Cano has been charged with threatening to throw, project, place or discharge a destructive device.  He also faces charges for possession of bomb-making materials, cultivation of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana.

Having been jailed since August 2011, Cano will be sentenced on Dec. 5, after he pled no contest to two charges.  His defense attorney has said he plans to call the teen's family as character references, ABC News affiliate WFTS-TV reported.  He has hopes of getting time served.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kids Say They Found Cellphone of Missing Oregon Woman

Facebook(GRESHAM, Ore.) -- Children playing in an apartment complex in Oregon found a cellphone that apparently belongs to missing 21-year-old Whitney Heichel.

Parents of one of the children told ABC News affiliate KATU-TV that the children found Heichel's phone in bushes outside the Troutdale Terrace Apartments Thursday evening.  The family says the phone had a screensaver of a picture of Heichel and text messages asking if she was okay.

"I was pretty shocked.  I mean I knew right away ... I recognized the face," April Fletcher, the mother of one the girls, told ABC News.

"[The kids] started flipping through some of the text messages ... from [her] uncle, and there was one from Scott that was trying to find out 'where are you.  Are you OK?'  So I mean it just kind of confirmed it to me that it was her cellphone," she said.

The apartment complex is about four miles away from Heichel's home in Gresham, Ore.  Police have not said whether the phone belongs to Heichel.

Hours before the phone discovery, Heichel's mother, Lorelei Ritmiller, urged people in the Portland area to keep looking for her daughter, who she described as the "sunshine" in her heart.

Ritmiller spoke of her missing daughter at the Gresham city council chambers on Thursday as investigators continued to search for clues after she went missing Tuesday.

"She's gentle.  She's compassionate ...She's this compassionate laughing person.  Her heart is as big as the sun ... This is just a great human being.  This is a person you'd think no one could ever hurt," Ritmiller said, according to KATU.

Ritmiller said she last saw her daughter on Monday, the night before she disappeared.  She said her daughter was talking about her future and the desire to start her own family.

"That was her biggest hope -- to have babies," she said.

On Thursday, police searched a wooded area nearby and examined the surveillance video at a gas station that captured Heichel's black Ford Explorer around 9 a.m. the day she disappeared.  Police said they have also interviewed the gas station attendant, but would not elaborate on what was said.

Investigators have not released any specifics about the video or who was driving the vehicle.  Many other businesses have provided police with security footage, reported KATU.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cellphone of Missing California Teen Sierra LaMar Yields No Leads

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(SANTA CLARA, Calif.) -- The search continues for Sierra LaMar, the Northern California teen who mysteriously disappeared on her way to school last week.

Authorities say there have been no new leads in the case and an analysis of her cellphone, found about a mile from her school bus stop, has yielded no clues, according to a press release issued by the Santa Clara Sheriff’s office on Wednesday.

A search and rescue team found the 15-year-old’s phone Saturday night alongside the roadway, about a mile away from her home in Morgan Hills, in the opposite direction of her bus stop, Sgt. Jose Cordoza told ABC News.

The charger for the teen’s cellphone was found in her room at home, and the phone looked as if it had been tossed.

Authorities and LaMar's family were hopeful that the phone could lead them to the girl.  But according to the press release, ”Forensic examinations of Sierra’s cell phone and computer have not revealed information beneficial to Sierra’s disappearance.”

“I can’t imagine Sierra without her cellphone,” Sierra's mother, Marlene LaMar, told ABC News after the phone was found.  ”That’s when it became a harsh reality.”

Over 150 tips have been called in to authorities, but none have yielded new leads in the case, authorities said.

Cordoza told ABC News that police are regarding LaMar’s disappearance as a missing person’s case.

”There is no information leading us to believe she purposely ran away,” he said.  ”On the other hand we don’t have information or evidence associating a crime with her being missing.”

Sierra’s father, Steve LaMar, told ABC News he has no reason to believe she was planning on running away.  He said there was “nothing out of the ordinary,” about her behavior leading up to her disappearance.  He spoke to her last Thursday evening and she even asked him to make her a hair appointment for the next weekend -- something he says she would never miss.

Marlene LaMar became worried after her daughter didn’t return home from school last Friday.

“I was worried when I came home and she wasn’t here,” Marlene LaMar told ABC News.  ”That’s when my adrenaline, that fear kicked in.  That’s when a mother has that instinct that something isn’t quite right here.”

They reached out to the teen’s friends, but they grew more concerned when one friend said Sierra wasn’t in class earlier that day.  They decided to contact authorities around 5 p.m. Friday, after her high school sent them an e-mail saying she didn’t show up for school at all that day.

Marlene LaMar told ABC News that her daughter’s bus driver said the teen never got on the bus the morning of her disappearance.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


No Evidence Cellphone Bans Are Effective, Report Shows

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Despite nationwide initiatives to curb cellphone use while driving, there is no evidence indicating that the bans are effective, according to a report out Thursday.

Nevertheless, the 40-page document urged states to enact cellphone and texting bans, even as it declared that there is "no solid evidence that any [ban] is effective in reducing crashes, injuries, or fatalities."

The report, Distracted Driving: What Research Shows and What States Can Do, developed by a host of transportation safety officials, also called on employers, the automobile industry and the federal government to continue to develop tests and implement measures to combat all forms of distracted driving.

The report summarized all research on distracted drivers available as of January 2011 and focused its attention on distractions caused by cellphones and text messaging.

One recent study said that about two-thirds of all drivers reported using a cellphone while driving.

The new document found that there was no conclusive evidence whether hands-free cellphone use is less risky than hand-held use.  It suggested that texting may carry a higher risk than other forms of cellphone use, but again found there was no conclusive evidence to verify that claim.

As of June 2011, 34 states and the District of Columbia had enacted texting bans for all drivers, but a 2010 study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HDLI) found that the bans did not reduce collision claims.  In fact, claims increased slightly in states enacting texting bans compared to neighboring states.

HLDI suggested two possible reasons for the increase.

"Texters may realize that texting bans are difficult to enforce, so they may have little incentive to reduce texting for fear of being detected and fined," the HDLI report said.  Or, the institute suggested, texters may have responded to the ban by "hiding their phones from view, potentially increasing their distractive effects by requiring longer glances away from the road."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Indiana Amish Man Charged with Sexting a 12-Year-Old

Courtesy of Connersville Police Department(MILFORD, Ind.) -- An Amish man from Milford, Ind., who pulled into a police sting operation in a horse and buggy has been charged with soliciting a 12-year-old girl via sexting.

Willard Yoder, 21, allegedly sent more than 600 text, picture and video messages to the local girl that he didn't know, including solicitations for sex and naked images of himself.

She is not Amish.

"[Yoder] told me several times that he just randomly chose that [telephone] number," Det. Craig Pennington of the Connersville Police Department said. "He just punched a number, hoping for a reply. If that is true, that's kind of scary because I'm sure that's not the first time that ever happened."

Alarmed by the disturbing messages, the girl told her mother, who later informed the police.

The Connersville Police Department set up a sting operation at a local restaurant in Milford, with an undercover cop posing as the girl. According to police reports, Yoder sent five messages intended for the victim asking, "Are you ready for tonight?"

He pulled up to the sting in a basic, black, two-person horse and buggy.

Once police confirmed via exchanged text messages that Yoder was the alleged perpetrator, they arrested him, securing his cellphone and his horse and buggy.

Yoder admitted to sending all the messages to the child via his cellphone and was charged with four counts of soliciting a minor, police said.

While the victim's family seemed relieved after the arrest, the child's father, who asked for anonymity, was outraged by the initial messages.

"When the pictures started coming in, and they got more graphic, I was like, 'Oh, my gosh, this is unbelievable," he told ABC's Indiana affiliate, WRTV6.

Milford residents told the station they are accustomed to seeing Amish people with cellphones, even though their community usually shuns technology.

Yoder posted bond of $5,000 per charge. A preliminary trial date was set for Sept. 19.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Woman Captures Her Attacker on Cellphone Video Moments Before Assault

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- "Can you please leave?" a California woman asks a strange man as he walks out of her home.  He responds, "Yes."

Oakland, Calif., police now regard this simple yet chilling exchange captured on a cellphone moments before a sexual assault as a key piece of evidence as they search for the intruder.

The incident unfolded Tuesday morning when police say a 28-year-old woman was home alone and heard a loud crash.

"She went to investigate those loud noises and the video shows exactly what she saw," said Oakland police officer Holly Joshi.

The victim found the stranger brazenly making an exit from her home with a box full of electronics. He did leave as she requested, but moments later police say he returned and sexually assaulted the woman.

Police say she didn't scream or call 911 during the attack, but her presence of mind to film the initial exchange may be the smoking gun that leads to the perpetrator's arrest.

"She was very much behind the release of the video, she wants justice, she wants the public to be aware of this man so this doesn't happen to another woman," said Joshi.

The suspect is described as a black man in his early 40s, five feet nine, 160 pounds, with a bald head.

Oakland police hope the images, which like so many other pieces of cellphone video has spread virally across the country, will compel someone who knows him to come forward.

The victim was treated and released from a California hospital.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Is It Really Safe to Use a Cellphone on a Plane?

Stephen Schauer/Lifesize/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Like most airline passengers, you probably have serious doubts about those pre-flight announcements asking you to turn off your cellphones, blackberries, iPods, and any other electronic gadgets.

The announcements are flat-out ignored by many frequent fliers, who are skeptical that so-called "personal electronic devices" or PEDs, pose any safety threat to airplane. Some passengers openly rebel, like New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who cursed out one flight attendant who demanded he turn off his cellphone.

But a confidential industry study obtained by ABC News indicates there really could be serious safety issues related to cellphones and other PEDs.

A report by the International Air Transport Association, a trade group representing more than 230 passenger and cargo airlines worldwide, documents 75 separate incidents of possible electronic interference that airline pilots and other crew members believed were linked to mobile phones and other electronic devices. The report covers the years 2003 to 2009 and is based on survey responses from 125 airlines that account for a quarter of the world's air traffic.

Twenty-six of the incidents in the report affected the flight controls, including the autopilot, autothrust and landing gear.  Seventeen affected navigation systems, while 15 affected communication systems.  Thirteen of the incidents produced electronic warnings, including "engine indications."  The type of personal device most often suspected in the incidents were cellphones, linked to four out of 10 such incidents.

The report, which stresses that it is not verifying that the incidents were caused by PEDs, includes a sampling of the narratives provided by pilots and crewmembers who believed they were experiencing electronic interference.

"Auto pilot was engaged," reads one. "At about 4500 ft, the autopilot disengaged by itself and the associated warnings/indications came on.  [Flight attendants] were immediately advised to look out for PAX [passengers] operating electronic devices... [Attendants] reported that there were four PAX operated electronic devices (one handphone and three iPods)."

The crew used the public address system to advise the passengers to shut off electronic devices "for their safety and the safety of the flight," after which the aircraft proceeded "without any further incident."

In other events described in the report, a clock spun backwards and a GPS in cabin read incorrectly while two laptops were being used nearby.  During another flight, the altitude control readings changed rapidly until a crew member asked passengers to turn off their electronic devices.  The readings returned to normal.  "After an hour, changes were noticed again...Purser made a second announcement and the phenomena stopped."

Dave Carson of Boeing, the co-chair of a federal advisory committee that investigated the problem of electronic interference from portable devices, says that PEDs radiate signals that can hit and disrupt highly sensitive electronic sensors hidden in the plane's passenger area, including those for an instrument landing system used in bad weather.

"It could be that you were to the right of the runway when in fact, you were to the left of the runway," said Carson, "or [it could] just completely wipe out the signal so that you didn't get any indication of where you are coming in."

Asked if a cellphone's signal could really be that powerful, Carson said, "It is when it goes in the right place at the right time."

To prove his point, Carson took ABC News inside Boeing's electronic test chamber in Seattle, where engineers demonstrated the hidden signals from several electronic devices that were well over what Boeing considers the acceptable limit for aircraft equipment.  A Blackberry and an iPhone were both over the limit, but the worst offender was an iPad.  There are still doubters, including ABC News' own aviation expert, John Nance.

"There is a lot of anecdotal evidence out there, but it's not evidence at all," said Nance, a former Air Force and commercial pilot.  "It's pilots, like myself, who thought they saw something but they couldn't pin it to anything in particular.  And those stories are not rampant enough, considering 32,000 flights a day over the U.S., to be convincing."

Nance thinks there are alternate explanations for the events.  "If an airplane is properly hardened, in terms of the sheathing of the electronics, there's no way interference can occur."

But Boeing engineers told ABC News that signals from PEDs could disrupt the navigation and communication frequencies on older planes, which are not as well shielded as the newer models. And anything that distracts the pilots in the cockpit is considered a true threat to safety. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Emergency Alert System Being Unveiled for Cellphones

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The federal government unveiled a major upgrade Tuesday of the national emergency alert system that will send warnings directly to cellphone users.

Similar to the alerts heard over the radio and on TV -- a loud, piercing sound followed by the words "This is a test of the national emergency alert system" -- the new alerts will be sent via text messages.  They will inform cellphone users of alerts issued by the president, emergencies like natural disasters that pose an imminent threat, and cases of child abductions or missing children.

Called the Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN), the expanded service will work on newer cellphones that contain a special chip.  The text messages will be free of charge and will be available to customers of AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile.

The alerts are scheduled to be rolled out in New York and Washington, D.C. later this year, with a nationwide launch to follow by next spring.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Michigan Police Use Device to Download Cellphone Data; ACLU Objects

Cellbrite(LANSING, Mich.) -- A high-tech gadget that can quickly download information from a cellphone is at the center of a controversy that's pitting civil liberties advocates against state police in Michigan.

Since 2008, the ACLU of Michigan has been petitioning the Michigan State Police to turn over information about their use of so-called "data extraction devices" (or DEDs). Manufactured by Cellebrite, a mobile forensics and data services company headquartered in Israel, the devices can connect to cellphones and, even bypassing passwords, retrieve phone numbers, text messages, call history, photos and video.

The issue came to a head this week, after the ACLU published a letter it sent to the state police, demanding transparency and saying misuse of the device could be a Fourth Amendment violation. Michigan State Police issued a statement Wednesday, claiming that "it only uses the DEDs if a search warrant is obtained or if the person possessing the mobile device gives consent."

But civil liberties advocates say that law enforcement's response is insufficient.

"They don't say anything about their past behavior. It's a carefully crafted statement," said Kary Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan.

On a "tip" that police had used a DED unlawfully, Moss said the ACLU filed its first Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in 2008 to learn the policies and practices surrounding the extraction device, but the police did not offer answers. Instead, they told the ACLU it would need to pay more than $544,000 to retrieve the records and reports it had asked for. Over the past few years, Moss said the ACLU has tried to work with the police to narrow the request and lower the cost, but with little success.

"We have credible information that they were being used during routine stops without a warrant," she said. "And their response that information would cost half a million dollars suggests that there was some widespread use."

But Michigan State Police spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said the devices have never been used to take personal cellphone information from citizens during routine stops.

Since the state got roughly six DEDs in 2006, Brown said, they have been used by specialty teams in high-level cases that require digital forensics methods -- for example, a child pornography case in which officers would need data from a suspect's computer and cellphone.

When asked why the cost of meeting the ACLU's FOIA requests were in six digits, Brown said that was what it would cost to have several employees, working full-time, assemble documents from a five-year period. She also said that in the five years that the state has owned the extraction devices, it has not received any citizen complaints or been named in any lawsuits.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio