Police Arrest Man for Stalking Girlfriend by Attaching His Apple Watch to Her Car

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There’s been so much hype around how AirTags can be abused for stalking that it’s easy to forget that they’re far from the first piece of technology that can be used for this purpose.

Numerous inexpensive GPS trackers are available, but one man in Nashville apparently decided that it would be easier to attach his Apple Watch to his girlfriend’s car to track her location.

According to NBC affiliate WSMV in Nashville, 29-year-old Lawrence Welch was arrested after police found the Apple Watch. He is now facing charges for attaching an electronic tracking device to his girlfriend’s vehicle.

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According to an affidavit, officers discovered the Apple Watch after being summoned by security to the Murfreesboro Pike Family Safety Center. The woman was seeking an order of protection against Welch and had arrived at the Family Safety Center to get away from him.

Welch’s girlfriend told police that the pair had used the Life360 app to keep tabs on each other’s whereabouts in the past but that she had previously deactivated the app. Once Welch noticed that he could no longer track her location, he began sending her repeated texts demanding to know her whereabouts and insisting that she call him.

She told police that Welch, who is facing two domestic assault charges from last summer, had threatened to kill her multiple times. He managed to track her down at the Center, where he was observed squatting down beside the front passenger-side tire of the woman’s vehicle. Upon inspecting the car, police found an Apple Watch attached to a wheel, which Welch admitted belonged to him.

In addition to the insanity of using a $300+ Apple Watch as a tracking device, it’s also one of the easiest ways to get caught. Although an Apple Watch doesn’t have the anti-stalking features that Apple has built into the AirTag, an Apple Watch must still be signed into an Apple ID and set up on a cellular data plan to be of any use for tracking.

These things will allow police to very easily track the Apple Watch back to its owner. Even in the unlikely event that it proves difficult, however, Apple can and will cooperate with law enforcement to identify the owner based on the serial number of the Apple Watch. Apple would be able to use this information to determine when and how the wearable was purchased and any Apple IDs that it has been used with in the past.

Unfortunately, while your iPhone will alert you when an AirTag or even AirPods are moving around with you, Apple hasn’t added the same kind of anti-stalking precautions to the Apple Watch. Presumably, Apple assumes that most people aren’t willing to effectively “throw away” such an expensive piece of technology merely for stalking purposes. With incidents like this, however, Apple may rethink this, so don’t be surprised if Apple finds a way to address this scenario in future iOS and watchOS updates.

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