When Kenobi and Luke come upon the remains of several Jawas and their sand-crawler, Luke recognizes them as the same Jawas that sold C3PO and R2-D2 to his uncle, Owen. From there, Luke hops on his speeder and drives back to his family homestead to discover his aunt and uncle were killed.

There was that one scene where stormtroopers find the escape pod and determine that droids must have been aboard it. While that tells them what to look for, it is not enough to know where the droids are. They are somehow able to track the droids to Jawas and then determine that the Jawas had the correct droids, and that the droids sold the droids to a pair of moisture farmers.

How did the stormtroopers know which Jawas captured the droids?

And how did they know the Jawas visited the Lars homestead to sell a pair of droids?

Did they search the Jawas' computer memories for recent transactions of who bought droids?

Looking for canon-based answers.

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    Follow droid tracks to sandcrawler tracks. Follow sandcrawler tracks to sandcrawler. Search sandcrawler. Droids not on board, backtrack and check everywhere sandcrawler stopped.
    – DavidW
    Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 3:46
  • 2
    @DavidW I thought it was this trivial, too. But if you think about it, why don't they already search the locations where the sandcrawler stopped while they are following its tracks?
    – Annatar
    Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 7:16
  • @Annatar We don't know exactly how many stormtroopers were involved in the search. It's entirely possible that they did have a couple troopers break off at each stop while the main team kept following the crawler. We don't know for sure that the crawler was destroyed before the moisture farm, just because Luke found them in that order. The point is that they found the crawler (your actual question) by tracking the droids from the escape pod, and they found the farm by tracking the crawler.
    – Steve-O
    Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 14:49
  • @DavidW Following droid or sandcrawler tracks might not be that easy when they drive over solid rock.
    – user89104
    Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 21:11
  • @Annatar Obviously they don't necessarily have competent leadership in the Empire, but if an intelligent leader were running things they would focus on the moving target first, before it expands the potential search area more than necessary. It's always possible to backtrack to fixed settlements later, they're not going anywhere. Plus the majority of droids would be on the crawler, unless you think the Lars looked rich enough to buy half a dozen droids.
    – DavidW
    Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 21:17

1 Answer 1


The story of how the Imperial Stormtroopers™ managed to track down down the droids is told in a booklet that was packaged with the Imperial Troop Transporter toy.

In short, the Stormtoopers identified tracks from both droids leading away from the pod in different directions. They used their transporter (a repulsorlift craft that leaves no tracks) to trace one set and the other set was followed by a Dewback unit. The set followed by the transporter led them directly to the Jawa Sandcrawler.

I've reproduced the story in its entirety below.

It seemed impossible! Two mindless droids had made off with design prints of the Empire’s most devastating weapon. ..Death Star™

As the search squad left the Imperial Cruiser, a report came through from the on- board Scanning Stations. The droids’ Escape Pod had been tracked to an arid region on Tatooine known as the Central Lowlands. The exact ground position had been lost as the Pod went beyond the Scanner’s range, but, in all that sand, a metal Pod should not be hard to find, not with the Imperial Troop Transporter!™

Landing at pre-set coordinates, the Troop Transporter of the Imperial Empire was there to meet them...long, sleek, deadly, with the Imperial Crest over the side hatches. The great, steel blue craft was operated by two drivers and could hold all six members of the search squad. Each Trooper entered a Traveling Rack on the side of the Transporter. They rode standing up in individual racks since their white and black armor made it almost impossible to sit. The rear of the vehicle contained a Prisoner Immobilization Unit for the detention and taming of renegade droids. And, for heavy resistance, there was always the Laser Blaster mounted on the upper deck. Even at night, the Transporter looked fearsome with the glare of its black, flip-up lights. One driver reported that Dewback™ ground units had spotted the Pod just a short distance to the north. Not bad for a Dewback outfit! But, the Transporter would take over the search from that point. It could cover twice the distance in half the time.

The Transporter hovered a few feet above the surface and sped to the Pod landing site, but the droids and the plans had long since gone. They left only two sets of tracks in the sand that were spared by the mid-day winds. The Dewback had already gone after one set of tracks. The Transporter locked onto the other set and headed east. The Surface Scanner in the Transporter soon picked up an old Class “D” transport slogging through the sand. Something the Jawas called a Sandcrawler™ Over the external sound system, they were ordered to halt in the name of the Empire. They kept moving. Two rounds were fired across the Sandcrawler bow from the 50 megatome Blaster on the upper deck. The Jawas stopped and came out to greet the Imperial boarding party. They had many droids in their inventory, but not the ones Darth Vader wanted back. Two droids were looted from the cargo bay and placed in the Droid Prisoner Compartment for further “questioning". A sale had been recorded to one Owen Skywalker of two droids for his moisture farm. That’s all the Troop Commander had to hear. The order was given to open fire and the Jawas were cut down in mid-step... defenseless.

As the Transporter left to find the Skywalker farm, the heavy gun fired once at the Sandcrawler’s mid-section. It exploded and burst into flames.

  • 1
    You can see the full instruction booklet (complete with pictures) here; jeditemplearchives.com/vintage-star-wars/instructions/…
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 15:00
  • 1
    Instruction manuals notwitstanding, your canon mileage may vary when it comes to this story. Owen isn't called Skywalker and we don't see the sandcrawler 'blown up' in the film (although we don't see it from every angle).
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 15:02

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