According to a New York Times report, when a cell phone is reported stolen, the NYPD will often subpoena that phone’s call logs, starting from the day of the theft and lasting up to two weeks. While this information is ostensibly being used to target the phone thief–a string of calls could potentially triangulate whoever’s using the phone–the logs are kept indefinitely, stored in a database called the Enterprise Case Management System, which allows officers to call up the logs “or any investigative purpose,” related to the original case or no. Making matters sketchier, according to four detectives interviewed by the Times, the call data logging often continues even after the number has been transferred to a new phone, meaning the victim’s information is being stored, not the thief’s.

If your mind is conjuring frightening images of The Dark Knight‘s creepy cell phone surveillance system, know that there’s hope yet. Though AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Metro-PCS all serve data directly to the police department, one carrier–the lowly Sprint/Nextel–requires written consent from the phone’s owner.

(Photo: Ricky Romero/Flickr)