Richard Smith summarizes the story of a Tukwila, Washington firefighter – Philip Scott Lyons. Lyons, a Safeway loyalty cardholder was arrested last August and charged with attempted arson:
According to the KOMO-TV and the Seattle Times, a major piece of evidence used against Lyons in his arrest was the record of his supermarket purchases that he made with his Safeway Club Card. Police investigators had discovered that his Club Card was used to buy fire starters of the same type used in the arson attempt.
For Lyons, the story did have a happy ending. All charges were dropped against him in January 2005 because another person stepped forward saying he set the fire and not Lyons. Lyons is now back at work after more than 5 months of being on administrative leave from his firefighter job.
The moral of this story is that even the most innocent database can be used against a person in a criminal investigation turning their lives completelyupside down.