Man arrested for Wi-Fi stealing

By on July 7, 2005, 8:31 PM
Benjamin Smith III, a 41 years old Florida citizen, is perhaps one of the first to face charges for such a common practice. Smith was arrested in April and this month a pretrial hearing should be taking place on charges of "unauthorized access to a computer network, a third-degree felony".

Police say Smith admitted using the Wi-Fi signal from the home of Richard Dinon, who had noticed Smith sitting in an SUV outside Dinon's house using a laptop computer.

The practice is so new that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement doesn't even keep statistics, according to the St. Petersburg Times, which reported Smith's arrest this week.

I guess this makes for a very peculiar case as this person was not connecting to a neighbor's wireless network from his own home, but sitting outside somebody else's house with the sole purpose of stealing his net bandwidth.

User Comments: 4

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vfxraven19 said:
wow, serves him right for stealing WiFi. I always disabled my AP if not being used, most of my house is wired ethernet. I mainly use WiFi for my PSP.
greenman said:
Not all people who are on the side of the road in your neighborhood are stealing Wi-Fi. I stop to use my cell phone or to set my GPS if someone isn't there to navigate for me. I set my GPS on my computer, so it looks just like I could be looking for wifi, but I'm not. I'm trying to acquire a GPS signal, which is perfectly legal anywhere in the US. It's pretty sad when just pulling off the side of the road becomes a suspicious activity when it is often for safety reasons. Instead of assuming a crime is in progress, can we give people the benefit of the doubt?While I'm not savvy enough to do this, some people in highly populous areas may leave their WiFi open in an effort to "share the wealth" using an opensource public gateway software package like ZoneCD.People who use open wifi are tempting fate anyway. There is a remote possibility that whoever opened the wifi access did so entirely to steal your passwords while you surf or get your mail. Some nefarious jokers even set up fake public access nodes to look like your favorite hotspot just to fool you. Unless you are entirely sure the open wifi or hotspot you are using is benign, you are better off not accessing it.[Edited by greenman on 2005-07-08 17:29:35]
zephead said:
this is good news. some of these guys are truly bad people, costing businesses thousands of dollars in damages.
Tedster said:
Unsecured wifi? Like throwing money in the street. This guy shouldn't be charged with anything.
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