Ottawa

Woman frustrated by police theft probe

An Ottawa woman whose laptop was stolen from her home last week is frustrated that Ottawa police can't search the home she traced it to.

App traced stolen laptop to an address, but info doesn't justify search warrant

An Ottawa woman is frustrated that a GPS app that traced her stolen laptop to a home in Kanata isn't enough for a search warrant. 1:58

An Ottawa woman whose laptop was stolen from her home last week is frustrated that Ottawa police can't search the home she traced it to.

Jennifer Butson told CBC News she's frustrated police can't request a search warrant to pick up her stolen laptop at a home she traced it to using an app. (CBC)

Jennifer Butson had installed a GPS tracking application on her $1,000 MacBook Air before it was stolen Tuesday.

Days after the theft, the application pinpointed its location at a home in Kanata.

"I was kind of shaking," she told CBC News from her home Sunday. "I called the police right away to say,'Look, I found it, but someone just needs to go get it.'"

But police said they must adhere to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and cannot simply write up a warrant and search that house.

App information not enough for a warrant, police say

Sgt. James McGarry with the break and enter unit said information gleaned from apps isn't enough to justify a warrant. Information from an app can be used to start an investigation but McGarry said from there police have to do their regular investigative work.

Ottawa police Sgt. James McGarry said information gleaned from apps isn't good enough to justify a search warrant. (CBC)

"There could be other reasons as to why the property is there," McGarry said. "Someone may have purchased it online. Someone may have found it on the street and brought it home."

Police said they're working to find the laptop and that it could take two weeks. By then, Butson said, it could be in another country.

"It's unfortunate that cops aren't equipped with the laws to be able to handle situations like this," she said.