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Feds arrest rogue trucker after GPS jamming borks New Jersey airport test
FCC promises crackdown on jammer use
A New Jersey truck driver is facing a fine of nearly $32,000 after leaving the GPS jammer he was using to dodge his bosses active during a visit to Newark, New Jersey's Liberty International Airport.
Gary Bojczak, then an employee of crushed-stone supplier Tilcon, was using a $100 GPS jammer plugged into the cigarette lighter in his company truck, and the FCC reports this was powerful enough to interfere with a new "ground-based augmentation system" being tested at the airport. The system uses GPS to help guide pilots on final approach to the runway.
After Bojczak parked near the ground station for the system, FAA staff noticed jamming in the restricted 1559 to 1610MHz band. Security staff with radio direction finders triangulated the interference as coming from a red Ford 150 pickup truck. When they questioned the driver, Bojczak admitted using the device and surrendered it immediately.
"Mr. Bojczak claimed that he installed and operated the jamming device to block the GPS-based vehicle-tracking system that his employer installed on the vehicle," the FCC said in a statement. "After the jammer was removed from the red Ford and turned off, the agent confirmed that the unauthorized signals had ceased."
More and more companies are tracking their vehicles via GPS to make sure the drivers aren't slacking off, but such systems are unpopular with the slackers, and can be jammed easily. Such GPS jammers are technically illegal in the US, but are freely available to purchase online and have proven to be a hit with car thieves.
The FCC originally fined Bojczak $42,500 for unlawful operation of a jammer, use of illegal equipment, and interference to authorized communications, but reduced the payment because he handed over the jammer promptly. The FCC also warned that it will be cracking down on the use of such hardware by pursuing criminal sanctions in the future.
"We caution Mr. Bojczak and other potential violators that we will continually reevaluate this approach and may pursue alternative or more aggressive sanctions should the approach prove ineffective in deterring the unlawful operation of signal jammers," it said.
"For example, as a companion to a proposed monetary forfeiture, we could also refer such matters to the U.S. Department of Justice for further consideration under the criminal statutes." ®