Apple Airtag: Rachel was tracked. The perpetrator was very close to home
When Rachel* received a notification on her phone that an AirTag was tracking her location, she immediately panicked.
The 19-year-old Melbourne woman said she was running errands on February 10 when she received the unusual news.
“I received a notification that an AirTag is tracking my location,” she told 7NEWS.com.au. “I’ve been shopping all day and kept getting notifications, but I had no idea where they were coming from.”
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Rachel said she was “stomach sick” and tore her car apart trying to find the AirTag, an Apple-developed Bluetooth tracking device that’s about the size of a nickel.
“It was so frustrating that I kept looking and looking and couldn’t find it anywhere,” she added. “Then I figured the only person who would have been in or near my car was my boyfriend.”
When confronting her boyfriend of six months, Rachel said she was shaking and upset. But he denied planting any device in her car.
“It wasn’t until I told him I was going to the police to report it that he finally confessed,” she said.
Eventually, Rachel found the AirTag in one of her car’s wheel hubs – her boyfriend had put it there to track her movements.
“I felt so hurt and in shock,” she said. “It just blew me away that someone I trust so much could do something like that.”
A common problem
Karen Bentley, executive director of the WESNET domestic and family violence service group, says the problem has been more common than people might think.
“Unfortunately, abusers have abused technology in large numbers,” she told 7NEWS.com.au.
In a 2020 survey by WESNET, 99.3 percent of domestic and family violence frontline workers surveyed said their clients had experienced technology-related stalking and abuse.
Bentley said the use of stalking, monitoring and tracking devices has skyrocketed since 2015 as the technology became more accessible.
Between 2015 and 2020, workers surveyed by WESNET reported a 131 percent increase in the use of GPS tracking apps.
“Most states and territories in Australia have stalking and surveillance and surveillance laws, and most also have cyberstalking laws,” Bentley said.
“In many parts of Australia, this type of behavior could be viewed as a tactic of domestic and family violence.”
But the problem is not just limited to Australia.
Last year, two US women sued Apple after their ex-partners allegedly used AirTags to track their movements, potentially endangering their safety.
One of the women claimed her ex-boyfriend put an AirTag in the hub of her car, dyed it and tied it in a plastic bag to disguise it.
What to do
Bentley says that anyone who is being stalked or monitored by an intimate partner without their consent could see it as a “red flag that things aren’t being respectful in your relationship.”
“Any type of stalking is dangerous and can be an indicator of future violence,” she said. “It’s one thing to be able to keep track of your belongings, but your spouse/partner is not your ‘affiliation.’
“It is not okay to covertly stalk people without their consent or full knowledge. It is also illegal in most states and territories.”
Bentley said anyone finding an AirTag being used in this way should report it to police.
“Do not destroy the device as it may be traced back to the person who owns it and used as evidence,” she added.
Meanwhile, Rachel says her ex-boyfriend has since tried to defend his actions – blaming his behavior on past trauma.
“He told me that he had been hurt in the past and didn’t want to risk being hurt again,” she said.
“But I didn’t buy it. I decided I had to get out of the relationship before the behavior continued or even escalated.
“It’s really so scary to think about what could have happened or what his intentions were.”
*Not her real name.
https://7news.com.au/technology/rachel-received-an-airtag-alert-that-she-was-being-followed-the-real-culprit-was-very-close-to-home-c-9785619 Apple Airtag: Rachel was tracked. The perpetrator was very close to home