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Japanese using 3D models as wanted posters
Illustration and resulting model of Takahashi, Japan's most-wanted criminal
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How police in Japan use 3D printing
Two stories this week highlighted how 3D printing is both helping and hindering the criminal underworld.
The first came out of Australia were a gang of Romanian ATM skimmers pocketed around $100,000 AUD using 3D printed devices.
With CAD and 3D printing the perpetrators were able to create entirely unnoticeable devices that fitted perfectly into specific ATMs in the Sydney area. 3D printing would be a quick and easy way for a skimmer case to be manufactured, without the costs of injection moulding the criminals were able to create cases to hide any hanging wires that may have given the game away.
Commander of the New South Wales Fraud and Cybercrime Squad, Detective Superintendent Col Dyson, told iTnews: “These devices are actually manufactured for specific models of ATMs so they fit better and can’t be detected as easily."
Parts of the devices are internally fitted, either by the offenders moving part of the slot and replacing it with their own, and pushing circuitry into the machines. [Another model] is so small it’s entirely self-contained and entirely pushed in, with some force, into the card slot.”
“The cameras the gangs are using are getting smaller and smaller with time,” Dyson said. “They’re trained down at the keypad where the pin is entered.”
Fortunately this gang have now been rounded up but we suspect it won’t be long before other gangs are using similar methods.
The 3D printed wanted poster
On the other hand 3D printing in Japan has helped police apprehend one of the most-wanted men in the country.
18 years ago, Katsuya Takahashi and other members of the doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo released Sarin Nerve Gas on the Tokyo underground system killing thirteen people and injuring thousands of rush hour commuters. He has been on the run since.
In June of last year, a much-changed Katsuya Takahashi was arrested at a comic book café in downtown Tokyo. A week before his arrest another member of the cult had been arrested and given the police a tip-off on his whereabouts. Takahashi had already fled the scene by this point but he had left a photo behind.
From this photograph the police were able to draw illustrations from which they produced a 3D model of Takahashi to give them more of a sense of how he looked 17 years on. The model was intended to be released to the public in order to garner more information about the domestic terrorist but shortly after it was created was arrested.
Along with their 3D printed wanted posters, the Japanese Metropolitan police force is also using 3D printers to recreate crime scenes to be used in trials. They have had the 3D printer for three years now and it will be interesting to see whether other police forces follow suit.
These new uses of 3D printing on both sides of the good guy/bad guy divide show a need for police forces to move with the times and not be left lagging behind as many people feel they have been with the internet.