The local news today informs us that one of our neighbors in and around Philadelphia was arrested after he may have followed up on an internet date by putting a tracking device in the car of his love interest. When the woman returned from a vacation she found her electrical system at home had been tampered with. She phoned local police who found a GPS tracking device in her car.

Oh well…perhaps a love interest unconsummated, right? Not quite. The Bucks County DA leveled charges of burglary, criminal trespass, stalking and harassment. The District Justice also was more than annoyed. He conditioned the defendant’s release on a $2 million dollar bond, which even in a 10% world requires security of $200,000.

We don’t mean to implicate Apple because we don’t know what snooping device was employed in this case. But we recently heard from a colleague whose client said she was driving about when her car informed her that she had a tracking device inside. In that case it seems to be a suspicious spouse.

Two years ago Apple issued this public statement”

AirTag was designed to help people locate their personal belongings, not to track people or another person’s property, and we condemn in the strongest possible terms any malicious use of our products. Unwanted tracking has long been a societal problem, and we took this concern seriously in the design of AirTag. It’s why the Find My network is built with privacy in mind, uses end-to-end encryption, and why we innovated with the first-ever proactive system to alert you of unwanted tracking. 

Obviously not everyone got the message; but the message is clear. Don’t expect to get away with this and even if you are surveilling your wandering spouse, the likelihood of criminal charges and civil liability for invasion of privacy is actually “a big deal.” In this case, it seems there may be footage of the alleged perpetrator rolling under his “prospective” girlfriend’s car while he installed the surveillance device. But suffice to say that however you proceed, it is likely that your monitoring device will be traceable to you. And that may produce some pretty serious charges which then would shift to claims for civil damages. In this case a review of the dockets shows that two of the charges are felonies-crimes that could involve a year or more in a state prison. Prosecutors like to overcharge in cases such as this, but your criminal lawyer is going to tell you that nothing is certain. The bail amount already demonstrates that the defendant’s alleged conduct has angered the court and temporarily landed him in jail.

People like to think that unless you assault your spouse or love interest, all can be forgiven. Not true. This unrequited “interest” has put this defendant in jail pending trial and while there might be empathy on the part of the victim at some point, the criminal cases is in the control of a district attorney who wants the community at large to understand that this kind of snooping is not going to be tolerated.