Family stalked by Disney park with Apple device

(NewsNation) — What was supposed to be a fun time at Disney World turned into a disturbing discovery for a Tennessee family.

Midstate mom Jennifer Gaston and her family were enjoying the Magic Kingdom when a mysterious alarm appeared on her teenage daughter’s phone. Someone used an Apple AirTag to track 17-year-old Madison Gaston’s every move.

Madison told NewsNation Prime that she saw the warning that an AirTag was detected moving with her. She tapped the alert and revealed a map of where she’d been at Disney World over the course of four hours.

The family was on their way back to their vehicle at the time because the park was closed that day. Meanwhile, the AirTag followed them from the train to their truck.

“We just started out mad, like shaking clothes and emptying our bags,” Jennifer Gaston recalled. “We got into the truck, locked the doors and drove off. We…couldn’t find any security at the park.”

The Gaston family eventually called 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 lot at Disney.

“I think what happened was we shook our clothes and emptied our bags, it fell off somewhere in that parking lot. If we knew then what we know now, we would have taken the time to look for the tag so we could report it to the authorities and they could do some investigation. But at the time, we just had no idea and didn’t know,” said Jennifer Gaston.

After mentally retracing their steps, Madison said she thinks someone placed the AirTag on her as she lined up in a crowded, shoulder-to-shoulder line for a jungle ride. She said the first location the AirTag discovered her was in line for that particular attraction.

AirTag is a small and elegantly designed accessory that can be personalized with free engraving, and allows iPhone users to securely locate and track their valuables using the Find My app. (Photo: Business Wire)

“We were just really shocked. I’m thankful that Madison … was a little bit familiar with what to do and somewhat familiar with what an AirTag was,” Jennifer Gaston said. “Me on the other hand, I had no idea. I did not know. So when she got the notification telling me she was being tracked because it was placed on her and plugged into her device somewhere, I was shocked. I was terrified. And of course our first instinct was, you know, find it, take it off us, get away from us so no one can follow us anymore. It was definitely a scary situation.”

Gaston said that after going through the scary experience, she would tell people to always be wary and educate herself about AirTags.

“Educate yourself so that you know you have the correct settings on your phone so that you get the notification because once the AirTag has not been with its owner for a certain amount of time it will alert the device that it is with you, but for that you have to have certain settings on your phone,” Gaston said. “Then just be aware of your surroundings.”

Apple says that if an AirTag moves with you over time, you’ll be notified if you’ve activated certain notifications on your individual device.

The tech giant says to get alerts, make sure you:

-Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services and enable Location Services.

-Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services. Turn on Find My iPhone.

-Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services. Turn on Significant Locations to be notified when you arrive at an important location, such as your home.

-Go to Settings > Bluetooth and enable Bluetooth.

-Go to the Find My app, tap the Me tab and enable Tracking Notifications.

To find the unknown AirTag, Apple says it can play a sound if you follow these steps:

-Tap the warning.

-Tap Continue and then tap Play Sound.

– Listen to the sound. You can play it again if you need more time to find the item.

To disable the AirTag and prevent it from sharing your location, Apple tells you to tap “Instructions to turn off” and follow the onscreen instructions. Read more about identifying the AirTag here.

“AirTag, AirPods and other Find My Network accessories include features to protect against unwanted tracking,” Apple said in a statement on its support website. “They should not be used to track people and should not be used to track down 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 it is discovered that an AirTag, set of AirPods or Find My Network Accessory is unlawfully tracking a person, the police can ask for all 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 has not identified any criminal violations. They did, however, prepare an incident report.

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