The detectives seized the thief’s computer and found on the hard drive photos of other stolen goods that the man had posted on a classified advertisement site.
Police Zone Schelde-Leie is a small police unit but very sophisticated. Because they were fed up with waiting three to six months for results from the federal computer crime units they became the first local Belgian Police Zone to use software to extract data from mobile phones.
The De Pinte police unit is among a growing base of law enforcement units worldwide using new web-based software solutions, to enable their non-technical detectives to quickly process and extract valuable information from seized mobile devices and computers—without having to wait for the digital experts in the forensic lab.
Since they began using their new software solution in May of this year they have seized more devices and have processed well over 10 terabytes of data. In fact, in the first two weeks alone investigators were able to process four cases with twelve containers of evidence. Normally this would take the police unit months to accomplish.
Luc Luyckx, a detective from the police unit at Schelde-Leie was concerned about accessing and potentially altering digital evidence. For example when viewing photo files the ‘last date viewed’ element could change. They can now bypass the login codes and make a forensic copy so investigators can process and analyze the data but they cannot change the original files or compromise their evidence.
In addition, a forensic copy or image of the suspect computer can be sent to digital forensic experts for a deep dive investigation so that the computer (or other electronic devices) can be returned to the owners in the absence of obvious evidence.
Their new anti-crime software program also helped detectives in De Pinte quickly solve another criminal case and this time in defense of a suspect.
The parents of an under-aged girl were very worried. Their daughter was asked in computer chats to perform sexual acts. Analysis of the digital data showed that the conversations were indeed sexually charged, however the daughter was also to blame for her participation. Luyckx added, "We started that case in August, and the investigation is already finished. Normally we would still be waiting for the computer.”
According to Hans Henseler, the founder of the Computer Forensics section of the Netherlands Forensic Institute and a Program Manager at Fox-IT, a digital investigation firm, detectives who best know the case can now sort through evidence themselves leaving mobile and computer forensic experts to work on what they know and do best.
This enables a more targeted approach to the investigation of digital evidence and a more efficient use of forensic laboratories.
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