Digital Forensics – Sat Nav solves murder investigation

Client Name: Police Force

The Challenge: CCL received a Sat Nav from a UK police force, who were investigating a kidnap and suspected murder. The police force’s own High Tech Crime Unit had already extracted data from the suspect’s Sat Nav, but this did not provide any information on the possible location of a body to help focus search efforts.

Overcoming the Challenge: CCL examined both the Sat Nav’s memory card and internal memory, and found that data was stored on the device’s internal memory only. CCL extracted a file from the internal memory, which contained crucial data relating to recent journeys made, trip logs, entered locations and favourites.

CCL also found additional trip logs in archived files dating back seven months. This data is easy to miss; however CCL’s analysts were able to use their specialist knowledge to identify that the archived files may have contained valuable data and so bought them into the scope of the investigation.

By using an in-house developed Python script, CCL automated the process of extracting the large amount of trip log data from the Sat Nav, and plotted these trips onto a map. Without the Python script, it would not have been feasible to extract and plot this information on a map manually within the time constraints of the investigation, due to the sheer volume of data. Using a script to automate this process meant that this could be completed in a matter of hours, giving the police the data they needed swiftly.

The Result: The Sat Nav data that CCL extracted was key in bringing a prompt resolution to the investigation, which would otherwise have continued for weeks, or even months. By searching the points CCL plotted on the map, detectives found that an unidentified body had already been found at one of these locations, later identified as the missing person. The suspect was subsequently found guilty of kidnap and murder at the Old Bailey, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

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