By Margaret Kavanagh
VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia (WTKR) — A cashier at a Virginia Beach grocery store was arrested for placing an electronic tracking device inside stickers given to a customer leaving the store back in July.
Experts say technology has made it easier to stalk people.
AirTags are small and cost about $30 online. They are just one of several different tracking devices of its kind.
According to Apple, their purpose is to help people keep track of personal items – like their keys, purse and luggage – by using the Find My app by using the iCloud.
But back in July, a mother and daughter were leaving Wegmans in Virginia Beach, located on the 4700 block of Virginia Beach Boulevard, and the cashier was giving the child stickers, according to a search warrant.
It states the mom found an AirTag rolled up with stickers given to her daughter, threw it away and called the police.
Police say Connor Land was arrested with one misdemeanor count of “unauthorized use of electronic tracking device” in relation to the incident.
While being questioned by police, records indicate that he showed authorities a letter on his phone he allegedly intended to deliver to the victim once he had tracked her down at her house, and “he made multiple statements that indicated his intent towards her was sexual in nature.”
Land was found guilty and currently appealing the case.
The victim didn’t want to be interviewed on camera but told News 3 she was horrified by what happened. She said she detected the AirTag when she felt like something was off during the interaction with the cashier. She encouraged others to follow their “mom instinct”.
“I was able to protect my family because I was hyper-aware of my surroundings and I reported it to the police quickly,” she said. “My advice for women and moms is you have to be aware of your surroundings. We must be vigilant and never let your guard down.”
Experts say too often, criminals are using technology to find their victims.
“Now, you can put something as simple as an Apple AirTag, or some sort of GPS tracker, under someone’s car or in their purse or in their bag and follow them at a distance. You can watch their whereabouts in the comfort of your own home,” said Neisha Himes, the founder of the G.R.O.W. Foundation – a nonprofit that helps victims of domestic violence in the Hampton Roads community.
Himes has seen criminals using tracking devices to stalk victims.
The statement from Wegmans regarding the incident is as follows:
We do not comment on matters that have been referred to the police. However, we can confirm that Connor Land is no longer employed by Wegmans. We have robust security measures in place in all our stores to keep both our people and customers safe, but do not share specific details. As soon as we were made aware of a possible incident, we immediately notified the Virginia Beach Police Department.
Land has a trial for the appeal on October 26.
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