A Tennessee family found to their horror that an Apple AirTag was tracking their 17-year-old daughter’s movements around Walt Disney World in Florida. Jennifer Gaston and her daughter Madison were shocked after they found that the teen received a notification on her iPhone saying they were being tracked for hours, as they were on their way to their car on the Magic Kingdom’s monorail in Florida. They found that Madison had been tracked for four hours and had been located everywhere she had visited between 7.09 pm to 11.33 pm.
“We were terrified, we were confused, hurt, and scared. She [Madison] literally watched it follow us from the tram all the way back to our vehicle,” Jennifer told Fox 35 Orlando. ‘It showed the first destination where it was detected with her, then it basically draws a line and makes the connections of the points where she had been.”
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The two searched the car but could not locate the device. They then drove off and called the police while Madison continuously kept an eye on the device’s location on her iPhone. “As she was refreshing it, it showed the AirTag was still in our parking spot so somehow when we were frantically shaking out clothes and dumping everything out of our bags it fell out,” Jennifer said.
“I had seen videos of other people warning people about them and what they were basically. So that’s how I knew what they were and I did not ignore the notification,” Madison said. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office took her report but deputies did not identify this incident as a criminal violation as the AirTag itself could not be retrieved.
Jennifer took to Facebook to share her ordeal. “The day actually did get better, and we ended up chatting about how many good and memorable things happened to us. We felt like we were ending our day on an amazing note with all the good things that happened in the evening,” she wrote. “That quickly changed as we were heading out of the park and back to our vehicle and Madison’s phone went off with a notification that she was being tracked with an AirTag. She quickly showed me and we began investigating right away. It continued to track us all the way to our vehicle. Once there, the girls start shaking all their clothes, going through all their bags, etc to try to find it. We couldn’t find it but took off to try to find security to report the incident. No one to be found as we drove out of the park.”
“Long story short, around 7 pm someone somehow slipped an AirTag on one of my girls (assuming Madison since her phone picked up the device). It had been tracking her for about 4 1/2 hours before we were notified. As we were reviewing everything, sure enough it tracked and documented every destination during that time (rides, food, meet and greets, bathroom, etc). How SCARY!!” she added. “We were advised to contact the sheriffs department to file an incident report. So we did. They stated it is pretty obvious that this person had horrible intentions. Since we did not find the tag and the last location was our parking spot at Disney (so in our frantic moments, it clearly fell off but we missed seeing it), they couldn’t track it back to anyone because they would need the tag. They STRONGLY advised us to not go back to the park.”
What are AirTags?
AirTags are coin-sized Apple devices that people put on things like their keys so that they can be located using one’s phone in case the objects are lost. Some criminals, however, have been using these to stalk people. Due to the growing concern over such criminal activities, some privacy groups have demanded that the tech giant pull the gadgets from store shelves permanently.
“Some people who have ill will towards others are using it to potentially stalk people, follow people, tag vehicles, high luxury vehicles, that they might want to come back and steal,” said David Benson, a security expert. “Even if it’s not at epidemic proportions, it’s happening enough where it’s concerning.” Benson advises that if one is in a similar situation, they must go to the police station immediately instead of returning home or any hotel they might be staying at.
However, Apple has launched a user guide for anyone facing ‘technology-enabled abuse’. “This user guide is a personal safety resource for anyone who is concerned about or experiencing technology-enabled abuse, stalking or harassment. It can help you sever digital ties with those you no longer want to be connected to and outlines the personal safety features that are built into Apple devices,” Apple says.
In January, swimsuit model Brooks Nader revealed she had the “scariest moment” of her life after she discovered that a stranger had put Apple AirTag inside her coat and tracked her all the way home for five hours. The tracking device was put on her at the Odeon bar in Tribeca, New York City, on Wednesday, January 5. Brooks, 26, said she didn’t realize that AirTag had been concealed in her coat until hours later after she received a notification on her phone telling her an unknown item had been moving with her for a while and that the owner could see its location.
In another incident, a Massachusetts woman, 21, was stabbed to death by a Tinder date-turned-stalker in the Netherlands, where she was studying. Mieke Oort, who was studying at the NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences, was murdered on Sunday morning, March 6, in her apartment in Leeuwarden. The Dutch suspect, identified as 27-year-old Thomas R, had reportedly placed a GPS device on her bike when she began dating an ex-boyfriend again. Thomas has been arrested for Oort’s murder. However, it is not clear if this particular tracking device was an Apple AirTag or some other similar GPS device.