Judge Harris at Swansea Crown Court in the U.K. found 41 years old Christopher Paul Trotman guilty of planting an AirTag and stalking his ex-girlfriend. Trotman received 9 weeks in jail and a restraining order to stay away from his former partner.
Apple launched AirTag in April of 2021 for users to easily locate their misplaced items through the tracker. Integrated with the Find My app and Find My network, iPhone users can see the exact location of their tracker on the map in real-time.
The tech company introduced anti-stalking features when domestic violence activists highlighted that the tracker can be used to control or harass partners, which includes an alert of unknown AirTag, and a ping sound to locate and disable them.
AirTag alerts notified the victim of unwanted stalking to seek police help and find the perpetrator
Although the couple had broken up in August 2020, the victim found the unknown AirTag in March this year after she bought a new iPhone. At first, she dismissed the notifications to pair her smartphone with an AirTag, but later she got alarmed when Trotman’s texts included her whereabouts and her daughter received similar alerts.
The victim examined her car and found the tracker glued under the rear bumper. She contacted the police and handed over the AirTag which led to Trotman’s arrest and sentencing. The Daily Mail reports:
Police began to look for Trotman using the very same tracker, which would beep when it was near to his iPhone.
A search of Trotman’s Amazon account showed he had bought a number of Apple tags the previous month and the victim decided to examine her car.
Judge Harris told Trotman he had stalked and effectively harassed his former partner and said that his behaviour in buying, fitting and using the tracking device had required a high degree of planning.
This incident is one of many in which an AirTag was used to harass a current or former partner. Therefore, in iOS 15.4 Apple introduced a warning message for abusers when setting up the tracker that each AirTag has a serial number and is associated with the users’ Apple ID. And to stop incidents of abuse, the company has partnered with law enforcement agencies to trace and apprehend perpetrators.
In addition, legislators in Ohio and Pennsylvania United States are also pursuing bills to make stalling via an AirTag or any other electronic device a criminal offense.