'Fleeing for your life, minutes matter' AirTag allegedly used to stalk woman

Apple AirTag
Posted at 4:31 PM, Mar 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-03 07:32:41-05

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Police have arrested a military soldier who is accused of using an Apple AirTag to track his estranged wife.

In the military, Apple AirTags are used to track household items during a move. In addition, a lot of people attach them to keys. If you lose them, you can use your phone to find them.

Unfortunately, these devices are now being used to track people. Megan Setter at the Clarksville Area Urban Ministries Safe House said it's a major problem.

"We’re starting to see an increase in technology abuse tactics,” Setter said.

On Feb. 23, a woman received a notification on her phone that an AirTag was in her vicinity. After she found it in her child's car seat, she called police. A Clarksville officer arrested Benjamin Kern for stalking. According to the warrant, the victim has a Military Protective Order against him.

Benjamin Kern
Benjamin Kern

"When Apple came up with this, it could take up to 3 days for someone to get a notification, 'Hey this might be following you,' they worked to get that down to a couple hours,” Setter said. “But when we’re talking about fleeing for your life, minutes matter."

Setter said she fears it could bring an abuser to their front door.

"We’re looking at investing in Bluetooth detection technology," Setter said.

To get AirTag alerts, make sure to follow these directions. If you don't have an iPhone, download the Tracker Detect App. To disable one, take the battery out.

"It’s not just the AirTags too, there’s other technology, and we’re talking about being close to a military installation, you have to have service members that do have that technical training," Setter said.

In an email to NewsChannel 5, a spokesperson for Apple said the company condemns any malicious use of the technology.

"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," an Apple spokesperson replied in an email. "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. We hope this starts an industry trend for others to also provide these sorts of proactive warnings in their products.”

- Apple

The station also reached out to a Fort Campbell spokesperson, who said they were going to look into it.