ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Deputies have arrested a man in a domestic violence case that has an element of high tech stalking.
Darius Jefferson, 35 faces a charge of aggravated stalking after an incident on Dec. 9.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office says Jefferson’s wife called him from work to say she was leaving him.
Jefferson’s wife then contacted law enforcement to ask for help to retrieve her things from their home. Authorities say as the wife was waiting for an officer to arrive, Jefferson found her using an Onstar tracking device he had installed in her car.
In an incident report, police say the victim contacted Onstar and asked them to turn off the tracking feature, but they would not because the account is in her husband’s name. Authorities say after the victim left, Jefferson tried 11 times to call her and when she answered one of the calls, she could tell he was driving.
Jefferson was arrested less than a mile from the victim’s location and charged with reckless driving and aggravated stalking.
Onstar issued a statement on the incident:
We take domestic violence and privacy seriously. Based on the information we were provided via the police report, we were able to speak with the wife and we have confirmed in our system that the subject vehicle’s OnStar account was deactivated yesterday.
Onstar now says they are investigating immediately to get all of the facts of the case and to determine their next steps.
At the Casa domestic violence shelter, an expert in batterer actions says the high tech GPS tracking is increasingly being used as a method of control over victims.
“In this day and age as technology evolves so do the abuse tactics and this is not uncommon, this is something we have heard of before,” said Zuleika Gonzalez with Casa.
Gonzalez says if a victim suspects they are being tracked they should contact a domestic violence shelter immediately and they can put the victim in touch with a community partner to help locate the tracking device.
“Because it could be anywhere on that car, it’s not necessarily the first thing that you think and if it is there can we disable it,” said Gonzalez.