For those who do not know, a “Stingray” is a secretive device supplied to the FBI (and certain State and Local LEO agencies) that simulates a cell tower to capture cell phone calls, location, and metadata.
They are often used without a warrant, though the government has been losing this battle of late. The Federal Government, in particular, is trying to hide their use, and their capabilities from the public.
As with anything that can be used by government, it WILL be abused.
The Register (UK)
Police in Maryland, US, used controversial cellphone-tracking technology intended only for the most serious crimes to track down a man who stole $50 of chicken wings.
Police in Annapolis – an hour’s drive from the heart of government in Washington DC – used a StingRay cell tower simulator in an effort to find the location of a man who had earlier robbed a Pizza Boli employee of 15 chicken wings and three sandwiches. Total worth: $56.77.
In that case, according to the police log, a court order was sought and received but in many other cases across the United States, the technology is being used with minimal oversight, despite the fact it is only supposed to be used in the most serious cases such as terrorism.
StingRay devices work by impersonating cellphone masts, so nearby phones connect to them and automatically hand over their unique ID numbers, allowing investigators to track the handsets and their owners by location.