Funny story about computer confiscation in Denmark

Police in Denmark confiscated the computer belonging to the guy who does the Rottin' in Denmark blog. They accused him of using a stolen credit card to buy stuff online. The blogger explained that he has an open WiFi access point, and that anyone can use it. It took them a long time to figure that out, but they took his computer (and his room mate's computer) anyway.

Rottin's account of the police visit is funny. But it also makes me wonder if I should close my open WiFi network. I don't want cops taking away my computer.

200802060937 We moved into my roommate's room.

She has an original iMac.

'We have your roommate's permission to confiscate her computer,' the Ichabod Crane one said.

'Whatever,' I said. They had already assured me that we would get our laptops back that afternoon, so I figured the damage had already been done. Ichabod started rooting around under her desk.

'Where's the computer?' he said.

'On the desk. That's the computer,' I said.

'No, the computer.'

'That's the computer, dude.'

'That's the screen.' He had lapsed into the voice you use when you explain to your 6-year-old cousin how the toaster works. 'I mean the compuuuuuter. Understand?'

'Dude. That's the whole computer. Right there. The blue object the size of an armadillo.'

'No. Where the daaaaata goes. The computer part.'

'That is the computer. For Hell!' Danish swear words aren't as satisfying.

'So that's the entire computer, right there?'

I was standing there with a look on my face like I was watching a dog walk on its hind legs.

'New technology, huh?' he said.

I blew the dust off the keyboard and handed it to him. 'Do you mind if I check your badge again?'



  1. Rottin’s account of the police visit is funny. But it also makes me wonder if I should close my open WiFi network. I don’t want cops taking away my computer.

    Well, d’uh. :-)

  2. ‘Do you mind if I check your badge again?’

    Oh, geez. You’re just asking for it. If this was Chicago, you’d already have beaten a couple of times and that one would have thrown them over the edge.

  3. I’ve always been a fan of the occurrences wherein the other person is clearly wrong, and yet *they* stoop to the condescending, patronizing voice antics. It makes a smirk and a pointing finger all that much more rewarding. Like a warm, fuzzy, “you did this to yourself” feeling in the tummy.

    That said, the same smirk-and-point *would* get you beaten in the States. I really have been beaten by a cop for asking smarmily for a badge number. Well, it was a baton to the elbow, but it hurt like hell!

  4. @#4: Cool. I guess I’ll swing by Bruce Schneier’s house if I ever steal a credit card and want to order some crap online. :)

  5. I have spent more time laughing at people who think that a CRT is a computer than laughing at people who don’t realize that an iMac has the computer built into the CRT case…

    Access points should be open. It should be legally mandated: if you want to use the public airwaves you need to run an open AP.

    The only real downside is total traffic leaching, but that is rare even now on open networks, and can be handled by the router if it does occur.

  6. What’s the tipping point where an openly offered resource (unsecured wifi) becomes an “attractive nusiance”? Does someone who always leaves his car keys in his ignition in the big city deserve a fine?
    Is leaving emergency food in your unlocked, remote cabin (where someone lost might find it) the same as storing your fish outside next to a daycare in bear country?

    I haven’t lived in Denmark,but it seems a society benign enough to have such cops as those described probably deserves cooperation from its citizens to the point of putting the lid on the cookie jar.

  7. Yes, officer: My computer is that ten-year-old Compaq Deskpro with Ubuntu installed. Not the MacMini in the cubbyhole of my desk.

  8. What’s the tipping point where an openly offered resource (unsecured wifi) becomes an “attractive nuisance”?

    I put a copyright tag on my content not because I care if anybody uses it (or think that anyone would want to). I just don’t want to be sued for using my own content. No good deed goes unpunished. It’s a bit depressing, really.

  9. Yes, that’s straight outa Zoolander! Owen Wilson is baffled when he’s told “the files are IN the computer”. Then they start beating on it trying to open it.

    Keep in mind both he and Ben Stiller are playing VERY stupid characters in that movie.

  10. If that were me the story would have gone differently.

    ‘Where’s the computer?’
    ‘On the desk. That’s the computer,’
    ‘No, the computer.’

    ‘Oh, it’s over there in that box.’
    ‘Why is it in a box?’
    ‘I heard you were coming so I packed it already, here, let me carry it for you.’

  11. It is so good to hear that the police are keeping up with the times and staying educated. God I can’t stand blatant stupidity.

  12. It’s a classic communication barrier issue – half the problem stems from the wording of his responses. He didn’t acknowledge that yes, typically there is a separate component that is the computer but that in this case it’s inside the monitor. For example, saying “Oh, it’s an all-in-one where everything is in a single unit,” would’ve cleared things up really quickly. It has the bonus of avoiding a Taser hit here in the US.

  13. Th stry tllr s th dt hr, nt th cp. t ny pnt r hplss hr cld hv clrfd n hs plshd bst Dnsh, “Th cp s blt tgthr wth th mntr n ths mdl.” Bt n. t ws mch mr fn mnpltng th sttn t xtnd cnfsn by rptng th sm stpd sttmnt tht gt nwhr th frst tm nd by wthhldng wht h knw wld b sfl. Blh. Rttn sn’t t ll rnclly nmd, h’s jrk. nd s s nybdy wh fnds Rttn’s ccnt f th cp’s vst fnny. t sn’t.

  14. Cop-baiting takes a certain sangfroid, but the results are often hilarious. If you’re going to send a cop to confiscate a computer, maybe you should send one who’s familiar with them.

  15. Remember, meatspace visual processing relies on packaging, and little else. That why those tasteless tomatoes are oh-so-red-delicious! ;-)

  16. “How did you get this job?” would have been another question I might have asked if I wanted to get my butt kicked!


  17. @bour3

    Are you reading the same article everyone else is? The cop didn’t understand that emails are stored/accessed online, not on a specific computer. Even my 70 yr old senile, mildly Alzheimer’s grandma can comprehend that.

    Mind you, this is the cop they send by to investigate computer fraud. That would make you think he is the cream of the IT crop.

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