Domestic violence perpetrators are sneakily inserting GPS devices into their ex-partners’ cars and within their children’s toys in a frightening attempt to stalk their victims.
The New Daily found several websites such as Wish.com selling GPS trackers equipped with cameras for less than $30 that are advertised to “track your cheating partner” and even children and pets.
Stephen Wilson, former police detective and chief executive at security firm Protective Group, said male abusers were commonly using these sinister devices to track and stalk estranged wives and partners.
“We deal with cases where GPS trackers that are cheaply purchased online, sometimes for $20, are being installed in cars,” he told The New Daily.
“There are also cases of trackers being secretly inserted into handbags and even stuffed into children’s toys, such as teddy bears.”
Mr Wilson, who works nationally in conjunction with The Salvation Army to assist victims of domestic violence, said tracking software was also commonly used.
“There are spying apps being secretly installed on phones in a matter of minutes and victims are usually clueless to this as the app doesn’t show up on the screen.
“They’re able to track their ex-partner’s every movement including GPS location, text messages and even emails.”
Dr Michael Salter, senior lecturer in criminology at the University of Western Sydney, said all recent domestic violence cases had a technological aspect to them.
“Technology has in some way been involved in the coercive or abusive behaviour that women are reporting,” Dr Salter said.
“There’s definitely a need for law reform to keep up to speed with technology because when stalking legislation was passed we didn’t have these types of technology on the market that were able to track people in this way.”
Kimberly Allen, Shine Lawyers abuse law solicitor, told The New Daily current laws nationally regarding stalking had some reference to the use of technology but didn’t expressly deal with the use of GPS.
“In New South Wales, the definition of stalking in section 8 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 is particularly wide in terms of what amounts to stalking and can extend to cyber behaviour,” Ms Allen said.
“It is important for victims to keep records of any cyber-stalking that they encounter as it is an otherwise tricky form of stalking to prove.”
Technology stalking victims speak out
Several brave victims of domestic violence shared their horrific stalking experiences with The New Daily, with some saying they dealt with the anguish for more than 10 years.
Jane (not her real name), told The New Daily she experienced almost 10 years of domestic violence that led to technology stalking when she made the decision to leave the relationship.
“The intervention order officer said that my phone was probably bugged because my abuser kept finding my location that first week, even when I hadn’t used my computer or spoken on the phone.
“I took the SIM card and battery out of that phone, and purchased another but the abuser knew that I had stopped using the old phone, and started demanding that I give it to him.”
She said she was left terrified as stalking was hard to prove.
“It’s difficult to prove that you are being stalked and precisely how you are being stalked.”
Another victim, Sarah (not her name) told The New Daily she endured almost 20 years of physical, emotional and sexual abuse from her ex-husband.
“The most recent events were this year and it was mainly through social media and the scariest part was he would approach people I chatted to on Facebook Messenger in person and ask them why they were talking to me,” she said.
“I went to phone shops and no one could explain or understand but what is most hurtful out of all this is the effect it’s had on our children.”
If you or someone you know is affected by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.