United States v. Katzin, No. 12-2548 (3d Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
In 2009-2010, Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey had a wave of pharmacy burglaries, many of which affected Rite Aid pharmacies. The FBI joined the investigation. A suspect emerged: an electrician, Harry Katzin, had recently been caught burglarizing a Rite Aid pharmacy; his brothers also had criminal histories that included burglary and theft. Over the following months, the Katzins were repeatedly seen outside pharmacies where phone lines had been cut. After consulting with the U.S. Attorney, but without obtaining a warrant, the FBI affixed a “slap-on” GPS tracker to the exterior of Harry’s van. Within days, state troopers stopped the van on a Pennsylvania highway. Local police notified the troopers that the Rite Aid closest to where the van had been parked had been burglarized. Inside the van, troopers found the Katzin brothers. From outside of the van, the troopers could see pill bottles and Rite Aid storage bins. The police impounded the van and arrested the Katzin brothers. The district court suppressed the evidence found in the van. The Third Circuit affirmed, holding that police must obtain a warrant prior to a GPS search and that the conduct in this case cannot be excused based on good faith. All three brothers had standing to challenge evidence recovered from Harry’s van.