Sheriff’s Department Patrols World of Warcraft (A favorite post of mine!)

by techtiptom

Originally posted on on 01/04/2010:

One of our listeners sent this to me last week, and I had to share it with you. Thanks, James!

Sheriff’s Department Patrols World of Warcraft

(Jan. 1) – Online gaming offers you a new life: new friends, new face, new clothes, new home, new everything. It sounds like a perfect spot for a someone hiding from the law. But not quite perfect. Two weeks ago, an Indiana sheriff’s deputy tracked down a fugitive by first locating him in the online game World of Warcraft, the Kokomo Perspective reports.

The sheriff’s department of Howard County had been searching for Alfred Hightower for two years without any luck, even with the help of U.S. marshals under Operation Falcon. From what Deputy Matt Roberson could piece together, he had left the country.

But he was still online.

Still, Roberson started asking around, and through a number of sources he figured out that Hightower, who was wanted on drug charges, was playing an online game – “some witches and warlocks game,” he was told. Roberson knew what he was hearing.

“None of that information was sound enough to pursue on its own, but putting everything we had together gave me enough evidence to send a subpoena to Blizzard Entertainment,” Roberson told the Kokomo Perspective. “I knew exactly what he was playing – World of Warcraft. I used to play it. It’s one of the largest online games in the world.”

But Roberson was in Indiana, Blizzard was in California and Hightower was in Canada. Roberson didn’t expect much back because of the limits of his jurisdiction, but Blizzard responded in spades. It gave Roberson Hightower’s billing address, his IP address, his account information, even his online name: Rastalynn, a level 80 shaman. Roberson plugged the IP address into Google Earth, zeroed in within 3 yards and bagged his man.

Sheriff Marty Talbert says this was the first time in his seven years on the job that a fugitive was tracked down in Canada.