NAUGATUCK, Conn. — The use of electronic surveillance is nothing new, but one way some are now carrying it out is. That's thanks to a device recently made available to the public from Apple. And it's that device that got a Waterbury man arrested and charged with stalking.
An Apple AirTag is a small, circular disk you might place in your wallet or purse in case your lose it, like a "Find My Phone" feature. But some, including allegedly Wilfred Gonzalez of Waterbury, are using it for other purposes.
"He is accused of placing an AirTag in his ex-girlfriend's vehicle," said Naugatuck Police Officer Danielle Durette.
Police said he did it to track where she was going. So Gonzalez's ex-girlfriend called Naugatuck Police Sunday night.
"She had concerns about him tracking her and it had been an issue in the past with him," Durette says.
Police located an AirTag allegedly belonging to Gonzalez in the alleged victim's car in the center console.
"So he was charged with violation of a protective order," Durette said. "He was also charged with stalking and breach of peace."
The 27-year-old, who was arrested by Waterbury police in a domestic case in October, is free on $10,000 bond.
"This AirTag situation is really, really threatening in the sense that they're small and not noticeable," said Mary-Jane Foster, President and CEO of Hartford based Interval House, which addresses all forms of abuse.
Foster notes that stalking is one of the top two indicators of homicide.
Connecticut's amended electronic stalking law, passed last year, moves it from a misdemeanor to a felony with up to five years in jail.
"It'll be interesting to see how the prosecution applies this relatively new law to a relatively new electronic phenomenon," said criminal defense attorney Frank Riccio.
Apple released the following statement in response to the arrest:
"We take customer safety very seriously and are committed to AirTag’s privacy and security. AirTag is designed with a set of proactive features to discourage unwanted tracking — a first in the industry — that both inform users if an unknown AirTag might be with them, and deter bad actors from using an AirTag for nefarious purposes. If users ever feel their safety is at risk, they are encouraged to contact local law enforcement who can work with Apple to provide any available information about the unknown AirTag.”
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