Ever drive somewhere only to realize that your stalker or psychopathic-ex has shown up too? If it's happening more often than you'd like, or you have that gut feeling that you are being watched by the invisible (wo)man, maybe you are a victim of GPS tracking.
Understanding how GPS systems work can keep you from landing in trouble. It's fairly easy these days for anyone (from complete strangers to estranged family members to business acquaintances to exes) to hunt you down and follow your every movement.
Here's how GPS works...
Usually, GPS vehicle tracking systems are simple to install. They basically consist of a GPS receiver and a cellular modem which is fastened to the vehicle. A GPS antenna attaches with a magnet to the underside of the bumper cover and a miniature magnet mount cellular antenna fastens to the frame. Power is supplied by a direct connect to vehicle power (so only works when vehicle is running) or by a field replaceable battery pack. Some units are stand-alone with a magnet that attaches to the underside of the vehicle.
The vehicle monitoring system can be accessed from a computer using GPS software. The location of the vehicle is displayed on a digital map of the area that the vehicle is in, showing movement as it occurs.
Some GPS tracking solutions can provide real-time tracking of a vehicle's current location, show detailed route history, and even pick up the speed that the vehicle is travelling at.
The GPS Tracking Key, for instance, (shown on the right) comes equipped with a powerful magnet so the user can attach it to the bottom of a car in a matter of seconds.
To learn a bit more about what to look for, here is a short clip showing two GPS units (among a few other tools of the stalker's trade). Daniel Sieberg from CBS reports.
If you have any suspicions that your car has been tampered with, or that a GPS tracking unit has been installed, get someone independent to find it (or help you find it), so that there's a witness, and no one can say that you bugged your own car (yes,stalkers do say these kinds of things in their own defense).
Do a thorough check of your car; take it to a mechanic if you have to. If you come across a GPS unit, do not remove it yourself !!! Take pictures of it, then take your vehicle to the police to look at the GPS unit and process it as evidence. They should remove the tracking unit for you, and depending how long it's been on your car, see if they can do forensics to get fingerprints off it (just like CSI). Get a copy of the police report on the spot.
Also, depending where it was purchased, these GPS devices will often have serial numbers - which can be tied to purchaser consumer data - leading law enforcement directly to the stalker. (You may want to mention this to the police officer if he appears to have an IQ less than 90).
Somewhere, on the stalker's computer, there may also be a browsing history where the police can match the GPS unit to the software that the stalker used to track your vehicle's movements.
Make sure the police deal with your case seriously. You may also want to get some legal advice on some civil remedies, depending on where you live.
And of course, there are ways to prevent a GPS tracking unit being used on your vehicle:
- Don't park your car out in the driveway; park it in a locked garage.
- Get a GPS device signal tracking jammer or blocker. (A gadget that emits a signal which will jam or black GPS devices within a radius of five meters. A word of caution: it will also stop the GPS functionality of built-in units installed in newer vehicles).
In the coming posts, I will also cover how stalkers can use your cell phone as a tracking device and what can be done to prevent it from ever happening to you.
Until next time... keep safe and sane...