A Tennessee family visiting Walt Disney World hastily left a Florida theme park in panic stalking after being pressured by Apple over the AirTag surveillance device that tracks their teenage daughter for up to four hours.
Jennifer Gaston and her 17-year-old daughter, Madison, went into a frenzy after the teen received a notification that a tracker owner was following them as they were returning to their car on the Magic Kingdom monorail earlier this week.
The notification showed Madison had been tracked over the course of four hours – from 7:09 pm to 11:33 pm – with the location she was visiting in the sprawling theme park – down to the parking lot.
“We were terrified, confused, hurt and scared,” Gaston said. Fox 35 Orlando. “I literally watched her follow us from the tram all the way back to our car,” she added, referring to her daughter.
“He showed the first destination that was discovered with her, then basically draws a line and makes connections between the points where she was,” she added.
The teen and her mother searched their car but were unable to find the device. They locked the car door and drove away before calling the police, with Madison still monitoring the location of the device on her iPhone.
“As she updated it, it showed that the AirTag was still in our parking lot, so somehow when we were frantically undressing and shoving everything out of our bags, Gaston said, it just fell off.
The $30 wireless devices are designed to help track items that people often lose, such as keys or wallets, but increasingly it has been revealed that they are being used by suspected stalkers to track people, mostly women.
The device is designed to block “unwarranted tracking” by alerting a nearby iPhone when an AirTag is separated from its user. For example, if a person places an AirTag on a vehicle but does not enter the vehicle, the motorist of the vehicle should be alerted to the presence of the AirTag near them or to move with them.
Jennifer Gaston said she discovered an AirTag tracking her and her 17-year-old daughter, Madison (right) as they were returning to their car on the Walt Disney World line in Orlando, Florida. Husband received a notification on Madison’s phone
AirTag, which is not in the family, reported that it was first discovered with the pair at 7:09 p.m. before receiving a notice four hours later, at about 11:33 p.m. Pictured: Gaston’s steps into the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World
The family made this frightening discovery while on a one-day visit to America’s busiest amusement park
How Apple AirTags was designed as a solution to finding lost keys, wallets, and pets
Apple AirTags, which went on sale by the brand in April, can be attached to items such as keys, backpacks and wallets.
Round devices are equipped with a Bluetooth connection to pair with an iPhone, iPad, or third-party device.
The AirTag’s location is sent to iCloud and then can be seen on a map, according to Apple’s website. Using the Find My app, the system provides step-by-step directions for locating the tag and lost product.
The device is designed to alert a nearby iPhone when it is separated from its user. For example, if someone places an AirTag on a vehicle but does not enter the vehicle, the driver of the vehicle will be alerted that an AirTag is nearby.
After a while, AirTag will start playing a sound to let nearby people know its location.
I’ve seen videos of other people warning people about them and what they were basically. And so I knew what they were up to and didn’t ignore the notice,” Madison added.
AirTag should start playing a sound to let people nearby know its location. However, it has been proven that the alert and sound can take hours or even days to be sent and can be turned off. The devices are also very small and can be easily hidden.
The AirTag’s location is sent to iCloud where it can be seen on a map, according to Apple’s website. Using the “Find My” app, the system provides its owner with step-by-step directions for locating the tag and lost product.
Madison and her mother agreed that people should report the slightest unusual digital activity they notice on their phones, and learn more about the new tracking technology over time.
Definitely do your research and find out what these things are. “You have proper settings on your phone even if you have an Air Tag that ends up with you to make sure your phone will detect it,” Garson said.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Florida said that because the family had not finished actually finding the AirTag, the incident was not determined as a crime. However, the investigators submitted a report of the incident and were informed of the event.
Apple has released an easy-to-use Android app called Tracker Detection to allow Android users to be alerted that AirTag has moved with them.
Due to growing concerns about device misuse, some privacy groups have called for the devices to be stripped from store shelves.
“Some people who have bad intentions towards others use it to potentially stalk people, follow people, tag vehicles, luxury vehicles, so they may want to come back and steal,” said David Benson, a security advisor in the area. “Even if they are not at epidemic rates, they are occurring sufficiently where it is of concern.”
Benson added that if someone is being tracked after finding the AirTag, the best outcome is to go to a public location and report to local authorities rather than going back to the home or hotel.
People are asking Apple to stop using their AirTag trackers as women increasingly report discovering the devices are tracking them to their homes
In January, a young Texas mom said she found an AirTag taped inside her duffel bag while traveling from Texas to Maine.
I think they would have hurt me for sure. She told Inside Edition at the time: “I don’t think you’re doing it without reason. “It took them nearly 14 hours to tell me this was happening,” she said.
Hundreds of other women have posted videos on TikTok sharing their stories about how mysterious AirTags associated with their items have been spotting and tracking their location since Apple released the tracker in April.
Each AirTag has a serial number physically written on it and is connected via Bluetooth. If law enforcement issues a court order, Apple may reveal the identity of the iPhone that the AirTag is registered to.
Law enforcement officers advise women to go to the police department immediately after getting an unsecured AirTag notice or finding the device. If possible, they advise avoiding going home, but most women seem to recognize the trackers after coming home.
Most women found AirTags hidden in or on their cars, but sometimes they were tucked into their personal belongings like bags and duffel coats. The mini trackers cost $30 and can be easily hidden in very inconspicuous places
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