Wireless fidelity, or "Wi-Fi," has enjoyed prolific growth since catching on in 2000. More than 10-million U.S. homes are equipped with routers that transmit high-speed Internet to computers using radio signals. The signals can extend 200 feet or more, giving people like [Richard Dinon] the ability to use the Web in the back yard of his Crescent Heights home but also reaching the house next door, or the street.
Today someone with a laptop and inexpensive wireless card can surf the Web via Wi-Fi at Starbucks or eat a bagel and send instant messages at Panera Bread. Libraries, hotels, airports and colleges campuses are dotted with Wi-Fi "hotspots." Even entire cities are unplugging.
In a way Dinon was fortunate the man outside his home stuck around since it remains a challenge to catch people in the act. [Benjamin Smith III], who police said admitted to using Dinon's Wi-Fi, has been charged with unauthorized access to a computer network, a third- degree felony. A pretrial hearing is set for July 11.