TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Tampa Bay area mom says a man kept tabs on her with a GPS tracker.
Jennifer Keane says she found the GPS tracker under her car. She says she didn’t put it there but immediately, she knew who did.
“It’s gray. It’s about this big,” Keane said. She said the device was tied to the brake hose.
She had gone to the mechanic to get her car checked because she feared she was being stalked.
For weeks, Keane says everywhere she went, there he was.
“Safety Harbor, Dunedin, downtown, Walmart parking lot,” Keane said. “But what really creeped me out is one time I saw him at the beach and I was by myself and he was walking up towards where I was set up.”
“It was chilling. I had chills down my spine and I knew intuitively that something was wrong.”
The man, who 8 On Your Side is not identifying, is now charged with stalking in Pinellas County. The case is open and active.
Keane contacted 8 On Your Side’s Mahsa Saeidi because she was frustrated with the system.
She says it took weeks to build the criminal case, and obtain a so-called no-contact protective order.
“I basically didn’t have enough information,” Keane said.
“I’m not the kind of person to carry weapons,” she said. “I started carrying weapons around.”
In Florida, installing a tracking device without consent is illegal. It is a misdemeanor of the second degree. Stalking is a misdemeanor too.
The law requires you to prove that the suspect “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly” followed you.
Lee Pearlman is Keane’s attorney and a former Pinellas County prosecutor.
“You’d be surprised how many people try and track other individuals,” Pearlman said.
Pearlman advises victims to document each encounter with the suspect, both online and in real life.
While waiting for criminal charges, you can also consider applying for a civil protective order or injunction. For that, Pearlman says you must prove two incidents of stalking.
“Once you get a civil injunction, and they violate that, boom you have a criminal case?” asked Investigator Mahsa Saeidi.
“It immediately creates a first-degree misdemeanor that is very easy to prove and very easy to prosecute,” Pearlman said.
“I’m not going to stop until I get these laws changed,” Keane said. “I do feel empowered.”
Keane says she feels the law is too lenient.
She’s created a website and a petition to change the law and empower alleged stalking victims.
If you are being stalked and you’d like to share your story, email investigator Mahsa Saeidi at MSaeidi@WFLA.com.