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NYPD uses GPS-enabled pill bottle to catch alleged drugstore robber

A man robs a drugstore on the Upper East Side in New York. Police quickly track him down because the OxyContin bottle he was given was actually a dummy bottle equipped with GPS.

The bait bottles contain no pills. MyFoxNY screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The law cannot decide whether technology works in its favor or not.

It seems happier when it can control the technology and far less happy when citizens' technology is directed toward its officials.

Indeed, some criminals may be unaware of just how deep the police's use of technology truly is.

On Friday, a man walked into a HealthSource Pharmacy in New York's Upper East Side and allegedly demanded the staff give him cash and OxyContin.

As MyFox New York reports, the pill bottle he was given didn't contain OxyContin at all. Instead, it was a dummy bottle that had been equipped with a GPS tracking device.

In this case, police tracked the man and stopped him some 30 blocks away. A gun battle ensued and the man, 45-year-old Scott Kato, was shot dead.

The use of these so-called bait bottles is a concerted attempt by the NYPD to fight drugstore robbers who can sell each pill for up to $80.

NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced last year that the use of GPS-equipped pill bottles was part of an effort to combat a problem that the force described as severe.

The New York Times reported that this was the first time that a police department was being open about its use of such a device. Kelly believed it would deter perpetrators.

The dummy bottles are manufactured by OxyContin maker, Purdue Pharma. They don't contain any pills, but if you shake them, they rattle. The GPS device is embedded in the bottle cap.

A Purdue Pharma spokesman told the Times that, so far, 111 suspects in pharmacy robberies across 33 states have been arrested thanks to these devices.