Michigan man busted for stealing Wi-Fi signal; could have received five years

Summary:Sam Peterson II of Sparta, Michigan has been arrested and charged with stealing the Wi-Fi connection from a nearby coffee shop. He was arrested after a police investigation targeted his computer.

Sam Peterson II of Sparta, Michigan has been arrested and charged with stealing the Wi-Fi connection from a nearby coffee shop. He was arrested after a police investigation targeted his computer.

The ultimate penalty for the 2000-vintage law: five years in jail, $10,000 fine.

The law says:

752.795 Prohibited conduct.

Sec. 5.

A person shall not intentionally and without authorization or by exceeding valid authorization do any of the following:

(a) Access or cause access to be made to a computer program, computer, computer system, or computer network to acquire, alter, damage, delete, or destroy property or otherwise use the service of a computer program, computer, computer system, or computer network.

(b) Insert or attach or knowingly create the opportunity for an unknowing and unwanted insertion or attachment of a set of instructions or a computer program into a computer program, computer, computer system, or computer network, that is intended to acquire, alter, damage, delete, disrupt, or destroy property or otherwise use the services of a computer program, computer, computer system, or computer network. This subdivision does not prohibit conduct protected under section 5 of article I of the state constitution of 1963 or under the first amendment of the constitution of the United States.

Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Lynn Hopkins tells Patrick Center of WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids:

"This is the first time that we've actually charged it," and it could be the only case of its kind in the state. "Oh, we'd been hoping to dodge this bullet for a while. We had not been looking for this," she said. "We knew it would come up eventually and we'd have to make a decision as to how to deal with it."

Fortunately, Sam has a clean record and won't have to do the time. He'll pay $400 and perform 40 hours of community service.

Hopkins hopes this action serves as a deterrent.

"People need to know that this isn't legal and if you get caught there are some pretty serious consequences.," Hopkins said.

Hey I can see it now.

"What are you in for?"

"Dealin' crank, dude."

"What are you in for?"

"Stealin' Wi-Fi, dude."

[poll id=70]

Topics: Hardware, Wi-Fi

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