Midstate mom Jennifer Gaston and her family were enjoying the Magic Kingdom when a mysterious alert popped up on her teenage daughter’s phone. Someone was using an Apple AirTag to track 17-year-old Madison Gaston’s every movement.
Madison told NewsNation Prime she noticed the alert that said an AirTag was detected moving with her. She tapped on the alert, unveiling a map of everywhere she had been in Disney World over the course of four hours.
The family was on their way back to their vehicle at the time since the park had closed for the day. Meanwhile, the AirTag was tracking them from the train to their truck.
“We just started frantically, like, shaking clothes and emptying our bags,” Jennifer Gaston remembered. “We got in the truck, locked the doors and we drove away. We … could not find security at the park.”
The Gaston family ended up calling the local sheriff’s office to report the stalking and officers met them at their hotel to file a report. Authorities went through the last location of the AirTag the family had, which was in their parking spot at Disney.
“I think what happened was amongst us shaking our clothes and emptying our bags, it fell off somewhere in that parking spot. If we knew then what we know now, we would have taken the time to look for the tag so that we could report it to authorities and they could do some investigation. But at the time, we were just clueless and we didn’t know,” Jennifer Gaston said.
After mentally retracing their steps, Madison said she thinks someone may have placed the AirTag on her while she was in a crowded, shoulder-to-shoulder line for a jungle ride. She said the first location the AirTag detected her was in line for that specific attraction.
“We were just really shocked. I’m thankful that Madison … was kind of familiar with what to do and familiar somewhat with what an AirTag was,” Jennifer Gaston said. “Me on the other hand, I was clueless. I didn’t know. So when she got the notification and told me that she was being tracked because it was placed on her and connected to her device somewhere, I was shocked. I was terrified. And of course, our first instinct was, you know, find it, get it off of us, get away from us so that no one can track us anymore. It was definitely a scary situation.”
Gaston said after going through the scary experience, she would tell people to always be on guard and educate themselves on AirTags.
“Educate yourself so that you know that you have the proper settings on your phone, so that you do get the notification because once the AirTag is away from its owner for a certain amount of time, it will then alert the device that has been with you, but you have to have certain settings on your phone for you to do that,” Gaston said. “Then just be aware of your surroundings.”
Apple says if an AirTag is seen moving with you over time, you will be notified if you have activated certain notifications on your individual device.
The tech-giant says to receive alerts, make sure you:
-Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services, and turn Location Services on.
-Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services. Turn Find My iPhone on.
-Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services. Turn Significant Locations on to be notified when you arrive at a significant location, such as your home.
-Go to Settings > Bluetooth, and turn Bluetooth on.
-Go to the Find My app, tap the Me tab, and turn Tracking Notifications on.
In order to find the unknown AirTag, Apple says it may play a sound if you follow these steps:
-Tap the alert.
-Tap Continue and then tap Play Sound.
-Listen for the sound. You can play it again if you need more time to find the item.
To disable the AirTag and stop it from sharing your location, Apple says to tap “Instructions to Disable” and follow the on-screen instructions. Learn more about identifying the AirTag here.
“AirTag, AirPods, and other Find My network accessories include features to guard against unwanted tracking,” Apple says in a statement on its support website. “They should not be used to track people, and should not be used to track property that does not belong to you. Using these products to track people without their consent is a crime in many countries and regions around the world. If an AirTag, set of AirPods, or Find My network accessory is discovered to be unlawfully tracking a person, law enforcement can request any available information from Apple to support their investigation.”
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office told NewsNation affiliate WKRN that since the family did not physically find the AirTag, their office did not identify any criminal violation. However, they did take an incident report on the matter.