back to article Man arrested, accused of trying to track woman using Apple Watch attached to car

A Tennessee man was arrested on Friday for allegedly trying to track his partner by attaching an Apple Watch to her car to monitor her whereabouts. Lawrence Welch, 29, was charged with unlawfully attaching "an electronic device intended for tracking another person to a motor vehicle." An affidavit filed in Davidson County, …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shame it's discovery was announced. It'd have been fun to just mail it to an approachable contact somewhere remote. Police department in Alaska maybe. Then on round the planet.

  2. JimboSmith Silver badge

    Attach it to a long distance greyhound bus and watch the scumbag disappear following that.

  3. Arty Effem

    "strapped to one of the wheel's spokes"

    One has to wonder how well it would withstand the g forces.

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      In the interests of science

      Maybe someone has a dead Apple watch and is willing to experiment. I'm guessing it wouldn't be in one piece for very long.

    2. Bill Gray

      Assume the vehicle's going about 100 km/hour = 27 m/s. I'm too lazy to go outside and measure my vehicle's tires at the moment, but the radius is probably about 25 cm.

      The acceleration will be v^2/r = about 2500 m/s^2, or about 250 gs. Gotta admit that I started writing this to dismiss the idea that the g forces would be significant, but that's a fair bit of acceleration.

      The above is for the outer edge of the tire. The watch was presumably strapped in at, say, half that radius and would have experienced half the acceleration.

      The stupid is obviously already strong in this one on many levels, but we can add the stupidity of not putting the watch someplace where it's less exposed to view and to possible damage.

      1. JassMan

        More to the point

        How come the driver didn't notice an out of balance wheel. When you get your tyres replaced, they often just add a single weight between 5gram to 20gram to counterbalance imperfections in the rubber. I certainly noticed when I lost a 10g weight after catching a displaced kerb stone while parking. I doubt that anyone would not notice the misbalance from a watch which weighs from 37 to 51grams depending on the case material, unless they never drove over 40mph.

        1. marcellothearcane

          Re: More to the point

          They didn't notice because they didn't drive with it on.

          As far as I can tell from the article, the tracker was installed after she had called the cops.

          Welch, the affidavit says, eventually arrived at The Family Safety Center "where instead of coming inside, he approached [his girlfriend's] vehicle and squatted down beside the front passenger-side tire."

          When officers inspected the vehicle, they apparently found an Apple Watch – determined to belong to Welch – strapped to one of the wheel's spokes.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Nitpick...

        "The above is for the outer edge of the tire. The watch was presumably strapped in at, say, half that radius and would have experienced half the acceleration."

        If the acceleration is proportional to 1/r, if the watch was strapped in at half the radius, surely it would experience twice the acceleration, not half.

        1. Spoobistle

          Re: Nitpick...

          OP's formula was wrong - it should be a = r.w^2 i.e. proportional to radius and to square of angular velocity. Back of my envelope says about 8000 m.s^-2 or 800g.

          If memory serves those button temperature loggers can stand about 600g easily enough, so an electronic watch might be ok. Might depend on orientation of quartz resonators.

          1. Bill Gray

            Re: Nitpick...

            OP's (my) formula _and_ your formula are both correct. Acceleration = r * ω^2 = v^2/r. Remember that ω = angular velocity = v/r.

            At half the radius, the velocity is (also) half as much. If the acceleration ran strictly as 1/r, you could get one heck of a centrifuge by putting objects a few microns off the axis.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Nitpick...

              Thanks for the clarification Guys.

    3. NeilPost

      It sounds beyond credibility…. Over and above the battery will barely last a day or so or if you get it wet, Apple will weasel on the warranty.

      Far better to superglue an AirTag somewhere innocuous…. Not that I ‘m trying to encourage it.

  4. sanmigueelbeer
    FAIL

    That's kinda bit dumb. How long will a fully-charged iWatch last until battery runs dry?

    1. Geoffrey W

      My watch winds itself with movement. Don't Apple watches do that? How primitive!

      1. eldakka
        Coat

        > My watch winds itself with movement.

        Hey! That's my excuse too!

        "I'm charging my watch, leave me alone!"

        1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

          @ThatOne. Well he did buy an Apple device.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Maybe a day, though if it has to run its GPS and mobile connection, probably not so well. At least the screen wouldn't have to be on. The real problem is with the elements. Even if the acceleration didn't damage it, and it probably would, that thing would be very close to the ground and moving rather fast. A stone hitting it at speed could cause serious damage. Driving through a puddle could also do so (they're supposedly waterproof, but not against pressurized water or with contaminants).

      I'm now considering finding something I don't need that's basically watch shaped and testing this out. I probably won't do it though because I'm guessing it will become dislodged quickly and I don't want my experiment to turn into littering.

      1. zuckzuckgo

        > At least the screen wouldn't have to be on.

        Unless the shake to wake feature is enabled. Depends how the internal accelerator react to the g forces.

    3. Totally not a Cylon

      Mine will just manage 2 days and that's using wifi for most of the time not cellular.

      Plus they tend to not work properly when not on your wrist.....

      Much cheaper, longer lasting trackers out there....

    4. ThatOne Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      > That's kinda bit dumb

      He's clearly kind of dumb, definitely with more money than wits. But then again he threatened to kill his girlfriend, so...

    5. PC Paul

      Somebody prepared to do all the things he was doing and in the middle of losing his control over her isn't 'a bit dumb', he's all out panicking and he deserves to be.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        > losing his control over her

        She isn't a pet! He's dumb, I rest my case.

  5. Mayday
    Gimp

    I can see why

    "Apple recently implemented anti-stalking measures for its AirTag trackers because they were being misused for surreptitious surveillance. These include alerts transmitted via Bluetooth to nearby iPhones and Android phones, so mobile device owners are made aware that an active AirTag is nearby. Apple Watch, however, does not broadcast its presence in the same way."

    I understand the issue, but I don't want some alert on my phone popping up every single time someone with an Apple Watch walks past. Going to the shops or catching public transport would be a nightmare.

    1. Sleep deprived
      Happy

      Re: I can see why

      We're not advertising the Apple Watch, just letting you know how popular they are in your surroundings.

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: I can see why

      You don't really think that's how it works, do you? I've only ever seen such an alert on my iPhone once, when I was at a bar I got an alert about an Airpod Pro. I assume it was either reported lost by its owner, or it had been abandoned and the phone it was paired with hadn't been around for some time.

      Since I live in a college town, it is Apple products as far as the eye can see and I'm not getting bombarded by alerts.

    3. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: I can see why

      "I don't want some alert on my phone popping up every single time someone with an Apple Watch walks past"

      That's not really how it works though - If they are within range of the airtag it won't alert anyone else, since it's clearly not being used for tracking.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: airtag alert

        I think Apple made an app so you could check for unexpected airtags near you.

        So that lady would want that app to checkout if the ex tries putting an airtag on her car or dropping one in her purse. You normally wouldn't know an airtag is near you unless they belonged to you or you run the app.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: airtag alert

          Or it's followed you for a while without being able to see the owner's device.

  6. Howard Sway Silver badge

    a misdemeanor violation of the state's prohibition on non-consensual vehicle tracking statute

    So he was only arrested for the misdemeanor of using the watch without her consent, rather than actually threatening to kill her, a much more serious charge which could be quite plausibly believed when his dumb creepy attempt at tracking her was discovered................ surely that's the crime they should have been addressing, rather than the misuse of Apple hardware?

    1. marcellothearcane

      Re: a misdemeanor violation of the state's prohibition on non-consensual vehicle tracking statute

      Yes, but that's how the legal system works.

      Rest assured*, the threats will be considered as an aggravating factor, which will mean a bigger punishment.

      You have a much greater chance of conviction based on evidence, rather than hearsay - otherwise it's her word against his, and he could flatly deny it. With actual physical evidence of intending to track her (note they mention his wanting to know where she was to back up the claim), they will hopefully be able to create a restraining order.

      Al Capone was finally arrested for tax evasion.

      * I am not a lawyer.

      1. ragnar

        Re: a misdemeanor violation of the state's prohibition on non-consensual vehicle tracking statute

        You would have thought that there would have been lots of independent witnesses at the centre though.

        Notable that if his old domestic violence case had been processed in good time then this may have been nipped in the bud also.

    2. ThatOne Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: a misdemeanor violation of the state's prohibition on non-consensual vehicle tracking statute

      > surely that's the crime they should have been addressing, rather than the misuse of Apple hardware?

      You're kidding? Misuse of Apple hardware is a capital offense!...

  7. sebacoustic

    Apple should do something...

    maybe just make the Apple watch 10x as expensive... so only _really rich_ stupid people strap them to a car as a tracker.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Apple should do something...

      Nothing would change, would it...

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