U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Information Hide and Seek

NCJ Number
Date Published
2 pages
This article provides information on the various devices criminals might use to hide electronic information and offers investigative tips on uncovering such evidence.
Crime investigators customarily take a suspect's computer and visible peripherals, assuming that they hold any and all electronic information that might be used as evidence; however, there are other devices that can also store electronic evidence, including MP3 players, gaming systems, digital cameras, DVD players with internal hard drives, TiVo systems, home entertainment systems, and new computer peripherals that have multiple functions. The latter includes a mouse that can store up to six gigabytes of electronic evidence. Another potential hiding place for electronic information is a wireless hard drive, which can be hidden anywhere, without any direct connection to a computer. Investigators must keep up to date on the various means of recording and storing electronic data and look for signs that a suspect may be likely to use these means. If a suspect has many technology devices, they should all be thoroughly checked. Indications that a suspect has computer knowledge beyond the average level suggest the use of advanced means of storing and hiding information. Common items such as pens, watches, cassette tapes, and even a Swiss army knife may hold memory cards or large amounts of built-in storage potential.

Date Published: January 1, 2005