Missouri Phone Purchases Put Police On Edge

Several large purchases of prepaid cellular phones at central and south western Missouri Walmart stores have put local police on edge and attracted the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (archived). In the United States prepaid cellular phones are one of the most popular affordable ways for lower income population to receive phone service. Macon county sheriff's department detective Curt Glover offered:

There's no violation of criminal law, as far as we're aware. They can go to a retail store and buy as many items as they wish. But when they buy a high number of one item most people wouldn't buy, it's cause for suspicion.

This perfectly represents the attitude of the "law enforcement" regime in the United States, that commerce unrelated to the promotion of obesity is a natural subject of suspicion. Substantial noise is made by these "law enforcement" agencies about how said prepaid phones are "anonymous" and "secure" in spite of their vulnerability to any of the same tools which may be used to identify and track other cellular phones. It would be safe to assume that due to the promotion of prepaid phones in this way that their operation is likely already subjected to enhanced scrutiny by "law enforcement" agencies. Police attention initially came in this case when an employee of the Walmart in Lebanon, Missouri reported "foreign speaking"1 men buying 60 phones at 4 am local time.

If these purchasers were indeed purchasing these phones for their potential privacy value they were right to buy in bulk. It would be safest to treat these things as disposable. Still purchasing these quantities from single sources is far from ideal as there is potential to bring exactly this sort of normally undesirable attention.2

  1. Of course in Lebanon, Missouri a Wisconsin accent is roughly as foreign as one from such exotic locales as Tanzania, Russia, and Boston. 

  2. This attention become desirable though if you aim is to waste police time by having them respond to cashier reports of "suspicious" purchases.  

2 thoughts on “Missouri Phone Purchases Put Police On Edge

  1. Linked piece now also mentions supposedly record-setting thefts of propane tanks in the same days.

    • Record setting thefts of propane tanks are only notable for being record setting. Propane tank theft is exceedingly common in Missouri for both the amateur pharmaceuticals industry and good old fashioned heat as winter is coming. I would have linked the Post Dispatch piece on this story, but they ceased playing friendly with archive.is so don't get the link.

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