When a cellphone is stolen, the NYPD routinely subpoenas phone call records to track down suspects. Call records from stolen cellphones are entered into the Enterprise Case Management System database. Phone numbers in the database are hyperlinked, allowing detectives to cross-reference it with other files. According to The New York Times, police are quietly compiling the data, without a court order, and using it for any investigation.
The subpoenas include calls made by the thief, but also calls by the victim. Records often include calls from the victim’s new cellphone after the stolen number is transferred to a new phone. Police documents indicate thousands of subpoenas are requested each year.
The data is often obtained without the victim’s consent or knowledge. Michael Sussmann, a lawyer representing wireless carriers, said, “If large amounts of victim phone records are being collected and added to a searchable database, it’s very troubling.” Sussmann suggested that police departments could limit subpoenas to the time between a phone was stolen until the victim has transferred the number.
Documents reviewed by the Times indicate subpoenaed phone logs often contain up to two weeks of information.