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January 3, 2012 at 6:29 PM

Pair plead guilty to string of Eastside burglaries

Two men accused of participating in a theft ring that operated both in cyberspace and through old-fashioned burglaries pleaded guilty today to six counts of second-degree burglary, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Brad E. Lowe, 36, and Joshua A. Witt, 35, broke into emergency key boxes at several Eastside companies in 2010 and used the key cards to gain entry and steal computer equipment, the Prosecutor’s Office said in a news release. Each faces a sentencing range of 51 to 68 months in prison when they are sentenced on Feb. 3.

Lowe and Witt are also charged in federal court with hacking into computer systems that belonged to local companies and stealing personal and business information.

The federal indictment accuses the men of “wardriving” — cruising in a vehicle outfitted with a powerful Wi-Fi receiver to detect business wireless networks. They then would hack into the company’s network from outside, cracking the security code and accessing company computers and information.

In other cases, they would physically break into the company and install “malware” on a computer designed to “sniff out” passwords and security codes and relay that information back to the thieves.

They then would strike quickly by accessing company accounts with other businesses like Amazon.com or eBay and charging expensive items, or in some cases actually getting into a company’s payroll.

In more than one instance, they would divert automatic payroll deposits to newly created bank accounts, load it onto debit cards and buy items like Rolex watches or engines for their cars, the indictment alleges.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: Burglary, King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, Seattle Police Department

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