MARIPOSA – Mariposa County Sheriff’s deputies used Netflix and IP addresses to apprehend a suspect in a recent home burglary case.
On the afternoon of Mar. 4, a victim reported her home had been broken into via a second story balcony. Among the items taken was a 65 inch smart TV, a Wi-Fi Blu-ray, lap top computer, miscellaneous cables and wires, surround sound system and speakers.
On Mar. 7, the victim once again contacted authorities to report that movies had been viewed on her Netflix accounts that were not watched by anyone in her household. She informed deputies that both the TV and the Blu-ray were linked to her Netflix account.
The victim was able to contact Netflix and retrieve the numbered IP (Internet Protocol) address of the Wi-Fi unit used to access the internet and Netflix. IP addresses allow the location of literally billions of digital devices that are connected to the Internet to be pinpointed and differentiated from other devices. In the same sense that someone needs your mailing address to send you a letter, a remote computer needs your IP address to communicate with your computer.
A search warrant was issued to the provider of the internet service in order to obtain the name and address of the IP holder who was using the Netflix account. As a result of the information received from the provider, a secondary search warrant was issued for a home in Mariposa.
A search of that home did not turn up any of the stolen items, but during an interview with the resident, deputies learned that they regularly allow neighbors to use their Wi-Fi. With that new information, an addendum to the search warrant was made to include the residence of the neighbor, Bobby Alexander.
No one answered the door when deputies knocked at the Alexander home, so K9 Arthur and his partner cleared the home. Once inside, deputies located the stolen property. A few hours later Bobby Alexander, 20, of Mariposa, turned himself in to the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office. He was arrested on charges of 459 PC Burglary.
He is currently being held on $75,000 bail.