St. Petersburg - A veterinarian using a wireless computer at his home on 26th Avenue North Wednesday night called St. Petersburg police.
He realized a man using a laptop computer in a car parked in front of his home, had tapped into his internet service.
ST. PETERSBURG POLICE SPOKESMAN GEORGE KAJTSA:
"While this person was accessing his computer, little icons appeared on his computer screen, or his monitor and this puzzled him because he did not access any of those areas."
Police say they arrested 40-year-old Benjamin L. Smith III while he was still on-line in front of the veterinarian’s home. Smith is charged with offense against computer use, a felony.
"So what the computer did is basically searched the area to see if there was a signal, found it, and utilized it."
St. Pete Police say it's the first case they can remember like this. Investigators are still trying to figure out what Smith was up to. Was he just looking for free internet access, or was he trying to hack into the victim's personal information, or maybe download something that would have gotten the victim, into trouble.
"He was concerned this guy might be accessing child porn or some other such thing."
A man who operates a computer store showed us how easy it is to access someone else's wireless computer. With the business owner's permission, Raymond Cruz accessed a tavern's computer system in less than a minute.
R.A.C. COMPUTERS CO-OWNER RAYMOND CRUZ:
"I'd get all the details of the network which is kind of scary. Basically you can access anybody's internet very easily."
But Cruz says it's also easy for wireless computer users to protect themselves by turning on the encryption system on their computer.
"It's a little check box, if you put the x, it's very easy. It's called WEP encryption."
But Cruz estimates 80% of wireless users don't use encryption, leaving their computer system open to all sorts of problems.
Cruz says most computers users don't know about encryption, because they don't read their instruction manuals.