High-Tech ‘Finder’ devices like Tile and Air Tag are being used as stalking tools

WATCH OUT: Two tiny trackers designed to make your life easier could be dangerous when put in the wrong hands.

HOUSTON, Texas – Imagine being alone, driving home and all the while someone you don’t know is tracking your every move, using cheap, tiny, devices like Tile and Air Tag.

“This is absolutely terrifying. It’s happening to women [and] it’s just really scary,” one woman named Brandy said.

KPRC2 investigates spoke with two women, both mothers, who were tracked and followed for miles using these devices in different circumstances.

Brandy says, in her case, someone attached an Apple Air Tag to her car at a posh Galleria hotel and tracked her from the Galleria all the way to within a few blocks of her home.

Worst of all, she was all alone and it was 10:30 p.m.

“How long did this guy track you roughly?” KPRC 2 Investigates asked.

“About 30 minutes. And I had no idea it was happening. He could have followed me all the way home but apparently, the device he planted on my car fell off a few blocks from my home,” she said.

Another woman, whom we’ll call “Sarah” for anonymity, discovered that her ex-husband had been following her using a different device called the Tile.

She had no idea it was happening until one of her kids found the Tile on the floor in the back seat of her car and she was later able to link the device to her ex.

“He was following me for at least six weeks. He would show up at all of these different places. And I thought, ‘how is this possible?’ And then my child found this Tile device in my car. He must have planted it in my car when he was picking up the kids one night,” Sarah said.

Colman Ryan is a cyber-forensic detective with KGriff investigations in Houston.

He says both the Tile and Air Tag devices are meant to be attached to your property, like your keys, your briefcase, your purse, even your pet’s collar. In case you misplace things often, these devices help you easily locate your lost property.

They’re tiny and powerful, but they can be misused by those who mean you harm.

”The danger is how easy you can attach this to someone’s car and track them,” Ryan said.

So, what’s the solution?

How can you find out if someone has mounted one of these tracking devices on your car?

You can do it by using a free app called BLE, which stands for Bluetooth Low Energy Scanner.

Using that app, Ryan tried to find the Tile tracker KPRC 2′s Bill Spencer had just hidden underneath his car.

He has no idea where Spencer taped the device. But, within three minutes of using the BLE, he finds the Tile taped underneath one of the bumpers.

“I’m glad I found it so easily,” Ryan said. “Because, using this kind of device to stalk people is dangerous. It’s no joke.”

“Be careful because what it means is that anyone can buy one of these on the internet and attach it to your vehicle and they can follow you anywhere. It’s a total invasion of privacy and it’s very scary,” Sarah said.

Having gone through this frightening experience, both Brandy and Sarah say the first thing you need to do is call the police if you think someone is tracking you.

Apple has built a program into their system that alerts Apple users if someone other than them is following or tracking them using an Air Tag.

If that happens, you will get a series of alerts along with instructions on what to do.

There is a link to the message that Apple will send its customers if it appears that someone is tracking them using the Air Tag device.

If you find yourself being tracked by a Tile device or other GPS tracker, it’s recommended by cyber security experts that you turn off location services on your smartphone.

About the Authors:

Emmy-winning investigative reporter, insanely competitive tennis player, skier, weightlifter, crazy rock & roll drummer (John Bonham is my hero). Husband to Veronica and loving cat father to Bella and Meemo.

Moriah Ballard joined the KPRC 2 digital team in the fall of 2021. Prior to becoming a digital content producer in Southeast Texas and a Houstonian, Moriah was an award-winning radio host in her hometown of Lorain, Ohio and previously worked as a producer/content creator in Cleveland. Her faith, family, and community are her top passions.