Stalkers find a new tool: satellites
GPS devices, now readily available, used in several cases
MILWAUKEE, Feb. 6 — Connie Adams found it impossible to escape her ex-boyfriend. He would follow her as she drove to work or ran errands. He would inexplicably pull up next to her at stoplights and once tried to run her off the highway, authorities said.
WHEN HE showed up at a bar she was visiting for the first time, on a date, Adams began to suspect Paul Seidler wasn't operating on instinct alone.
“He told me no matter where I went or what I did, he would know where I was,” Adams testified at a recent court hearing.
Kenosha police said Seidler had installed a satellite tracking device in her car that allowed him to pinpoint her every move.
Police say Adams' case and several others across the country herald an incipient danger: high-tech stalking. The advent of global positioning technology has made such devices readily available to the public, but more people are abusing it.
“As technology advances, it's going to be almost impossible for victims to flee and get to safety,” said Cindy Southworth, director of technology at the National Network to End Domestic Violence in Washington.
a comforting thot!...
Police say Seidler put a global positioning tracking device between the radiator and grill of Adams' car. Such gadgets use a constellation of satellites to pinpoint location and can send their coordinates to cell phones or computers.
Trucking companies use GPS systems to track hazardous cargo and monitor drivers. Corrections authorities use them to monitor sex offenders. Hikers, boaters and motorists use GPS devices to keep from getting lost. The technology is also being built into cell phones to help emergency dispatchers find 911 callers. They're also being used to prevent car theft.
[How sickeningly ironic! We use technology to monitor sex offenders, and they use that same technology to monitor us!
In the Adams case, Seidler pleaded innocent last month to felony counts of stalking, recklessly endangering safety, burglary and a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct. His trial is pending.
Southworth trains victims advocates, law enforcement and prosecutors on stalkers' use of the technology, which she says is only just beginning to be abused.
[Yet another happy thot to think...
The Stalking Resource Center at the National Center for Victims of Crime has found at least one other case of a GPS system being used to stalk a victim.
In it, a Colorado appeals court in July upheld Robert Sullivan's conviction for stalking his ex-wife and installing a GPS device in her car to track her movements.
[Well, at least maybe that's the beginning of a good trend...]
CHECKING THE TECHNOLOGY
GPS is not the first technology to be misused by stalkers, who have also employed the Internet, microchip-sized cameras and even caller identification, said Southworth, though it is the most dangerous to date.
Just as she once taught victims how to block caller ID when they use the phone, Southworth now suggests victims occasionally check under the hood of their car.
[Soon we'll be spending so much time checking & trying to be safe that we won't have the time or energy to actually do
anything or go
Tracy Bahm, the Stalking Resource Center's director, said some states are working to update their stalking statutes to include the high-tech variety.
The center typically advises states to keep their statutes broad enough to include technologies that don't yet exist.
“As society and technology evolve, stalkers will always find new ways to harass their victims,” Bahm said.
[Surely we can find some better ways for these people to channel all that extra time, ambition & creativity they seem to have.]
OK, any suggestions?