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Police say suspect foiled monitoring device

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Police who were sent to the scene of a possible burglary attempt in the District on Saturday arrested two people nearby.

The charge against one stemmed from alleged misuse of aluminum foil, and was rooted in how radio signals travel.

D.C. police said officers sent to the 600 block of Galveston Place SE found someone who was walking away while wearing a Global Positioning System-based monitoring device. They said foil had been placed around it.

GPS devices are sometimes used by courts to monitor suspects, but they are not foolproof.

“The offender population is very creative in its attempts to find ways to deter GPS detection,” the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency said in a 2009 statement. “Offenders have learned that wrapping the GPS device in aluminum foil can make the GPS tracking points untraceable and disappear.”

School science demonstrations show how foil can block radio waves and silence radios.

The suspect found with the device Saturday was wanted for failure to appear for a trial, police said. They said he was also charged with GPS device tampering. The second person was arrested on an outstanding burglary warrant, police said.

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