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Friday, 30 May 2014

Can a cell phone's (without SIM card) location be traced?

    Today a tragedy struck Lithuania. A young 17 year old girl was kidnapped by two killers and raped, then she was put in a trunk compartment and driven to the woods where they set car on fire and the girl died inside. Killers were captured couple hours ago. The girl managed to call 911 and was speaking for 30 minutes with the police. All nation now is in anger that police failed to trace her location during a call. Police tells that it was not possible to trace her location because a SIM card was missing from a phone. We all know it is a lie, because the girl also managed to call her friend not long before she called 911 - without SIM card it is impossible to call.
I think that police failed to trace her phone (with SIM card) and now want to justify their actions using this public deception.
Anyway I want to know is it possible, or not, to trace a cell phone WITHOUT SIM card? Can someone explain why? 

Update : I forgot to add, that she managed to call the police while she was locked in a trunk. Police failed to determine location by provided information - it was not enough. There is only a small chance that a cell phone was actually a smartphone, by probability it was NOKIA old series.

Best AnswerAsker's Choice

  • BC answered 8 months ago
Short answer: Yes you can trace a phone, with or without the SIM card. How easily it can be traced is highly variable.

As long as the battery is good, you can use a cell phone to make an emergency call even if its service has been cancelled.

As an experiment, it would be easy enough to pull the SIM card from any phone and try using it. I think it will still allow "911" calls, but nothing else. No calls to friends.

Older phones don't have GPS, so it's possible her phone didn't have that feature. Without GPS, the only way to trace a phone's location is for the the police to contact the phone company to triangulate the signal between two or more cell towers - assuming the phone is in range of two on more towers.

Out somewhere in the woods, chances are the phone was only in range of a single cell tower, which makes triangulation impossible. At best, you might be able to indicate a direction the phone's signal is coming from, but that's still a wide area to search. Even if the police were being diligent (questionable), they still might not have been able to find her in time.

By the way, tracing without GPS requires the phone be in use - like the girl's active call to the police. If the call drops, that kills the ability to trace.

Also, triangulation only works if you are not moving. If her 30 minute call to police was while she was being driven around in the trunk of the car, then there wouldn't be a realistic chance of finding her until the killers stopped.

Asker's Rating & Comment

5 out of 5
Very informative. In that place there are a lot of towers, also a cellphone company released information that it can be traced via their towers. Thanks for answer.
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  • Ricky Montana answered 8 months ago
    Depends on the phone . If you have an Iphone or smart phone I believe the gps is alreayd built into the phone. But 9/10 the Police can always track anybody's phone

  • source:  https://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20130921061305AAuxmDT

    See more:

    Can cell phones be traced ao tracked down location? - Yahoo Answers

    29 Mar 2014 - Mobile phones work by hopping from one tower's range to another - so as you drive out or the one's range, you hook onto another one's. Each of these towers ...