People who still think of GPS trackers as devices that simply provide you with turn-by-turn directions between any two points are missing a large part of a much more meaningful story. Although the technology may have entered into the lives of many consumers in that fashion, it has grown much more sophisticated and powerful as a technology over the last decade. GPS tracking technology is regularly used in everything from retail to fleet management, for example, offering an almost unprecedented level of visibility into asset tracking and protection as well as tasks such as resource allocation.
GPS trackers have also reached the point where they can not only be installed in seconds, but can also give you instant and automated alerts whenever something, such as a vehicle, moves without your permission. If your intentions are good ones, this could not be more helpful. If you’re like one teacher from Orange County, California, who was arrested for using a GPS tracker to stalk his ex-girlfriend it’s another matter altogether.
The case of the Orange County teacher
Elementary school teacher Stephen Boyd’s trouble began after a romantic relationship that he was having with another district teacher began falling apart earlier in 2017. These types of things happen all the time, but Boyd’s response to the news was troubling, to say the least.
Boyd purchased a small GPS tracking device and installed it himself on his ex’s SUV. His intention was to use it to track her whereabouts, presumably trying to learn if and when she began seeing other men. The truly scary thing about all of this is that he likely would have gotten away with it had he just been a bit more careful.
Someone who knows both Boyd and the victim actually saw him placing the GPS tracking device under her vehicle. That person told Boyd’s ex, who quickly filed a series of complaints with the local police department. After a comprehensive investigation, police were able to link both the GPS tracker and a series of troubling Facebook messages straight back to Boyd. They were able to make a fairly open-and-shut stalking case, at which point Boyd was then arrested and charged by the local sheriff’s office.
Boyd’s ex-girlfriend indicated that in addition to phone calls, he continued to send alarming messages through social media, sent countless emails, and even made unsolicited (and unwelcome) appearances at her place of employment. All told, she says that she received about 1,000 calls from Boyd across a period of six months.
Police were also able to determine that Boyd hoped to use tools like the GPS tracker to cause trouble with the victim’s new relationship. At his court appearance, Boyd was told to stay away from not only his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend, but the places of business where they both work. He was also given one week to report his arrest to the school district. He did, and he was placed on indefinite leave from his job.
Boyd may be able to return to his teaching position with the Orange County school district after his case is complete. He was charged with two misdemeanors, however, which means that this will likely be up to the school district itself.
If anything, this is yet another in a long line of lessons about the delicate tightrope we all walk when it comes to technology in the modern era. Yes, a small and powerful GPS tracking device can be a great way to recover your car in the event that it is stolen or to track the driving habits of a teenage driver. However, it often comes with an uncomfortable downside, too.
At the end of the day, we can’t stop the lightning pace at which technology continues to advance — nor would we really want to. It seems that for the foreseeable future, with every benefit that we enjoy from technology such as GPS tracking, we will naturally have to put up with the negative aspects that come right along with it, too. Whether this is truly good or bad in the long run is something that remains to be seen.