10/17/2012 08:51 pm ET Updated Dec 17, 2012

San Francisco Clipper Cards Trace Travelers' Whereabouts

This article comes to us courtesy of The Bay Citizen.

By Zusha Elinson

San Francisco police arrested Marcel Largaespada on April 30 after a gunpoint robbery at a Lombard Street business, but they couldn't catch his alleged accomplice, Alan McCahill.

McCahill gave officers the slip, investigators believed, by hopping on a Muni bus.

He was caught days later. To try to place McCahill at the scene, prosecutors subpoenaed the information from his Clipper card, which they believed he'd used to pay his bus fare.

The request for McCahill's travel record was one of the rare occasions that police or lawyers have sought to use the Clipper card database to track the whereabouts of a cardholder.

According to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which administers the card, it has received three search warrants or subpoenas seeking customers' personal travel information since the card's inception in 2010. In only one of those cases did the search turn up any relevant travel information, according to the commission's response to a public records request from The Bay Citizen.

Visit The Bay Citizen to read the rest of this story.