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Could Savvy Stalkers Track Victims Down Using Car Location Apps?

By IE Staff

First Published: 12:16 PM PST, January 16, 2024

An increasing number of vehicles are now available with an app that allows drivers to instantly locate their car if it is lost or stolen.

This technology is a godsend to a number of drivers in the country’s biggest cities, who can find themselves scrambling to find parking and then scrambling again to remember where they parked their car a few hours later.

However, that same software can be used for more nefarious purposes by stalkers.

Real estate agent Christine Dowdall says her abusive ex-husband used an app on her Mercedes-Benz to stalk her every move.

“He pulled up beside me in his truck and sat there and rolled the window down and just stared at me,” Christine tells Inside Edition. “So I knew he knew where I was.”

Mercedes is one of the many car manufacturers whose vehicles come equipped with state-of-the-art tracking systems that drivers can access right from their phone.

This feature is convenient for drivers who forget where they parked or nervous parents whose children are hitting the road after getting their license, but some domestic violence experts say that this special feature is also being weaponized to harass and stalk people in abusive relationships.

Christine says that she reached out to Mercedes-Benz at least a dozen times after she suspected her ex of stalking her using the app and asked them to remove his access.

Mercedes-Benz said there was nothing they could do according to Christine because her estranged husband was the registered owner of the car.

“The car manufacturers themselves see it as a registered owner, and when the registered owner is your offender, your stalker, they will not cease the use of the app,” says Detective Kelly Downey.

Detective Downey led the investigation into Christine’s ex-husband for stalking, and she is now showing Inside Edition how accurate and precise these apps can be with a little demonstration.

“When you can be tracked like that it cripples you,” says Christine while fighting back tears. “I don’t care what anybody says it does.”

Christine says she eventually paid a mechanic $400 to disable the app. 

Finally, she returned the car.

“We need the laws to be changed, we need women to feel safe,” says Christine. “I know it’s not just me, there’s got to be other women out there that feel the same way.”

While being investigated for stalking, the Christine’s ex-husband committed suicide.

Mercedes-Benz would not comment on her situation but in a statement said it considers issues like this on a case-by-case basis. They also say their tracking feature is meant to find lost or stolen vehicles and they can’t control it being mis-used for other purposes.


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