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Tracking Device Under Norwalk Car Gets P.I. Busted

NORWALK, Conn. – A "poor man's GPS" found hanging under a car scared the car's owner and got a private investigator arrested Wednesday, Norwalk Police Sgt. Lisa Cotto said. John Hoda, 29, of West Haven was arrested on a warrant and charged with disorderly conduct. Bond was $2,500.

The car owner spotted something hanging under her car on Aug. 10 and at first thought the car was damaged and a part had come loose. She called her boyfriend, who said he'd look at it after work. Police said she felt under the car and the boxlike object came off into her hand.

When her boyfriend came home he didn't know what it was either. They called police.

Police say the box had been duct-taped to the car’s undercarriage. It contained a cell phone and an external battery pack for the phone. Both were on.

The woman has been in a custody dispute with her ex-husband. Police contacted him. After being given his Miranda rights, he said that he had hired a private investigator, Hoda, because he was concerned for the welfare of his daughter.

Hoda told police he had taped the box with cell phone under the car because he has a computer program that can track the phone. "Basically, what this is, is a poor man's GPS," Cotto said.

"We advised him how that would make someone nervous in this day and age, how it would look like a bomb. ... We arrested him for causing annoyance and alarm."

Cotto did not know if officers had confirmed that Hoda had a license to be a private investigator. There is a John Hoda listed on the Website of the Connecticut Association of Licensed Private Investigators.

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