A Tennessee family visiting Walt Disney World hurriedly left Florida Amusement Park because of a stalking scare after being pinged by Apple about their AirTag surveillance device tracking their teenage daughter for up to four hours.
Jennifer Gaston and her 17-year-old daughter Maddison became hectic after the teenager received a message that they were being followed by the owner of the tracking device when they went back to their car on the Magic Kingdoms monorail earlier this week.
The notice showed that Maddison had been tracked within four hours – from 19:09 to 23:33 – with the location of where she had visited in the extensive amusement park – all the way to the parking lot.
“We were horrified, we were confused, hurt and scared,” Gaston told Fox 35 Orlando. “She literally saw it follow us from the tram all the way back to our vehicle,” she added, referring to her daughter.
“It showed the first destination where it was discovered with her, then it basically draws a line and connects the points where she had been,” she added.
The teenager and her mother searched their car but could not find the device. They locked the car door and drove away before calling police while Maddison continued to monitor the device’s location on his iPhone.
“When she refreshed it, it showed that the AirTag was still in our parking lot, so when we somehow shook clothes off and dumped everything out of our bags, it fell out,” Gaston said.
The $ 30 wireless devices were designed to help keep track of items that people often place, such as keys or wallets, but have increasingly been revealed to be used by suspected stalkers to track people, mostly women.
The device is designed to prohibit ‘unreasonable tracking’ by alerting a nearby iPhone once the AirTag has been separated from its user. For example, if someone should place an AirTag on a car but not get into the car, then the driver of the vehicle should be warned that there is an AirTag nearby or moving with them.
Jennifer Gaston said she spotted an AirTag tracking her and her 17-year-old daughter, Maddison (right), as she was returning to their car at the Walt Disney World monorail in Orlando, Florida. The couple had received a notification on Maddison’s phone
AirTag, which did not belong to the family, stated that it was first discovered with the couple at. 19.09, before receiving a message four hours later, around kl. 23.33. The picture: Gaston’s steps at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World
The family made the eerie discovery while making a day visit to America’s busiest amusement park
‘I had seen videos of others warning people about them and what they basically were. So that was how I knew what they were and I did not ignore the message, “Madison added.
AirTag should start playing a sound to let people nearby know its location. However, it has been proven that the alarm and sound can take hours or even days to be sent out and can even be turned off. The units are also very small and can be easily hidden.
The location of the AirTag 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 instructions for finding the brand and the missing product.
Maddison and her mother agreed that people should report the slightest unusual digital activity they notice on their phones, and to learn more about the new tracking technology as time goes on.
‘You definitely need to do your research and find out what it is. Have the correct settings on your phone, so if you have an Air Tag that ends up with you, make sure your phone will detect it, “Garson said.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Florida said that since the family did not end up physically finding the AirTag, the incident has not been identified as a crime. However, investigators have filed an incident report and have been made aware of the incident.
Apple has released an Android-friendly app called tracker detect to allow Android users to be alerted to an AirTag moving with them.
Due to growing concern about the device’s misuse, some privacy groups have called for removing gadgets from store shelves.
“Some people who have bad intentions towards others use it to potentially stalk people, chase people, brand vehicles, luxury cars that they might want to return and steal,” said David Benson, a security consultant in the area. “Even if it’s not in epidemic proportions, it’s probably happening where it’s concerned.”
If a person finds themselves being tracked after finding an AirTag, then the best result is to go to a public place and inform local authorities instead of going home or hotel, Benson added.
People are urging Apple to stop their AirTag tracking devices as women increasingly report finding the devices tracked to their homes
In January, a young mother in Texas said she found an AirTag wallpaper inside her bag as she traveled from Texas to Maine.
‘I certainly think they would have hurt me. I do not think you do it for no reason, “she told Inside Edition at the time. “It took almost 14 hours to let me know this was happening,” she said.
Hundreds of other women have posted videos on TikTok to share their stories of how they found mysterious AirTags attached to their items and track their location since the tracking device was released by Apple in April.
Each AirTag has a serial number that is physically written on it and connected to Bluetooth. If the law enforcement presents a court order, Apple can reveal the identity of the iPhone on which AirTag is registered.
Law enforcement advises women to go to the police department immediately after receiving an unauthorized AirTag message or finding the device. If possible, they advise to avoid returning home, but most women seem to learn about the tracking devices after going home.
Most women have found AirTags hidden in or on their cars, but sometimes they have even been placed in personal belongings, such as duffel bags and coats. The small tracking devices cost $ 30 and can be easily hidden in very inconspicuous places