A WOMAN who was stalked by her controlling ex-boyfriend has blasted eBay and Amazon for selling “wife” and “spouse” trackers for as little as £8.
Bethany Eagle, 39, had a sinister device planted in her car – and was horrified that the stalking gadgets are so readily accessible for people to buy online.
A simple search for a ‘wife tracker’ comes up with devices listed to ‘find a cheating spouse’
Bethany Eagle was stalked by her ex-boyfriend – and found the tracker when she took her car to the garage
The devices can be bought for as little as £8 online and are listed under terrifying terms such as “find cheating spouses” and “track your wife’s car”.
One £15 tracker on Amazon was marketed as “perfect for tracking spouses,” rated three stars, and even came with next-day delivery.
And for £25 on eBay, stalkers were told they could track their wife’s car without any “tricky wires” getting in the way.
The website even pushed the item up as a suggestion, informing users that 161 had already been sold and that the devices were “almost gone.”
Both online retailers said they were looking into the concerning listings – with eBay removing those flagged by the Sun Online.
Women’s Aid, a national charity seeking to end domestic abuse against women, has said the findings are “really concerning,” adding that the providers should take this “extremely seriously.”
And women have spoken out about being stalked using similar devices – with one victim of car stalking saying it’s “horrendous” how easily people can get their hands on trackers.
Ms Eagle was stalked by her ex-boyfriend who placed a tracker on her car and had a second key cut for the vehicle.
She only found the sinister device when she took her car into a garage to get work done last November.
Speaking about her ordeal, Bethany from Newquay, Cornwall said: “I just wanted to throw up – I couldn’t comprehend it at all. He then said it wasn’t an official tracking device – they’re just stuck on.
“It lets him know when I’m turning the engine on, and it lets him know when I turn it off.
“You wouldn’t never think in a million years someone would do that to you.
“It’s unfathomable he popped on the internet, found what he wanted, it’s arrived, and he’s just wondered down and quickly popped it on and walked away.”
Her ex-partner pleaded guilty to stalking in June 2021 – and she today slammed the online retailers, adding that she was “gobsmacked” at how easy the harmful trackers are to purchase.
The 39-year-old told the Sun Online: “It’s horrendous it shouldn’t be so easy for people to get hold of ‘trackers’ to keep tabs on their partners or exes.
“I thought if you were looking for that you were either a sinister or obscure person and you would have to get the help of a private detective.
“I never would imagine this kind of thing was readily available on sites like Amazon – it’s the kind of thing you think only exists in TV dramas.
“I was gobsmacked to see just how easily accessible and how informative they are. If you just have a quick search on Amazon and type it in it just comes up. It’s too easy for predators.”
She said the impact of the stalking “has left me going mental”.
“I’ve been so paranoid, so jumpy. Every morning, every night, I would be certain I’m being watched.”
Speaking about the lack of security checks when people go to buy the items, she added: “I do think you should have to meet some sort of criteria to be able to make a purchase like that.
“I find it difficult to put it into words, it’s the violation, and to see it’s so easy. Part of me feels angry, I’m still in shock about it all.
“Your average person shouldn’t be able to track somebody. They should just be for security purposes.”
Good Morning Britain weather presenter Ruth Dodsworth was also a victim of car tracking by her controlling husband – before he was jailed for three years.
Ruth, 46, decided to leave her husband after 17 years of marriage after he bombarded her with more than 150 phone calls in one day.
But after they split, he placed a tracking device under the steering wheel of her car so he could monitor where she was.
After searching for a ‘spouse tracker,’ stalkers can purchase the item hassle-free – even with next day delivery
Ruth Dodsworth, 46, was stalked by her husband after he placed a tracker in her car
Prosecutor Claire Pickthall said: “There was a suspicion the defendant had placed a tracker on the car she was now driving.
“She was driving home from a relatively remote location and when she was coming back the defendant was seen driving towards her with seemingly no reason for being in that area at that time.
“Because of the concerns she took the car to a garage and staff were asked to look for a tracker on the vehicle as she explained she feared her ex-husband had placed on the car.”
When questioned about the listings by the Sun Online, an eBay spokesperson said: “We don’t allow listings which encourage this kind of behaviour.
“We have removed the items and taken appropriate action on the sellers.”
An Amazon spokesperson said: “Amazon is looking into the matter,” and refused to comment further.
Suzy Lamplugh Trust, a domestic violence charity that also runs the National Stalking Helpline, condemned the findings – especially since the use of tracking devices has increased during lockdown.
It’s vital that companies put effective measures in place to minimise the misuse of technology to perpetrate behaviours including stalking and harassment
Violet Alvarez, officer at the Suzy Lamplugh Trust
Violet Alvarez, a Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer for the Trust, said: “Stalking is a crime of psychological terror which affects one in five women, and one in 10 men and can have a devastating impact on victims’ lives and their mental health.
“Online stalking and harmful behaviours, in particular, have increased in the past year with the outbreak of Covid-19, including the use of tracking devices.
“It’s vital that companies put effective and appropriate measures in place to minimise the misuse of technology to perpetrate behaviours including stalking and harassment and better ensure the safety of stalking victims.”
Teresa Parker, Head of Media and Communications at Women’s Aid: “It is really concerning that you can go to sites and search under ‘wife tracker’ and this isn’t blocked by the provider – this is a gift to domestic abusers, who increasingly use technology to control and intimidate.
“Being tracked by technology, by a current or ex-partner, means that every moment of your life is under scrutiny, and this can cause both physical threat and psychological harm.
“Coercive control has been against the law in England and Wales since 2015, and being able to search for a tool to control your partner is something that providers need to take extremely seriously.”
While it is legal to buy a car GPS tracker, the way you use it could be illegal – and installing one can be considered spying or an infringement of privacy.
The Human Rights Act 1998 states that a person’s “private and family life, his home and correspondence” needs to be respected – while the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 identified stalking as a criminal offence.
This comes amid the Government’s crackdown on sexual harassment as part of its strategy to tackle violence against women and girls.
Measures include a public campaign “focused on creating behavioural change” which it hopes will challenge misogyny in society, as well as pledges to ensure police know how to effectively respond to allegations.
Launching the strategy yesterday, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The safety of women and girls across the country, wherever they are, is an absolute priority for me.
“It is unacceptable that women and girls are still subject to harassment, abuse, and violence, and I do not accept that violence against women and girls is inevitable.
“I am determined to give the police the powers they need to crack down on perpetrators and carry out their duties to protect the public whilst providing victims with the care and support they deserve.
“This strategy, shaped by the responses of those who bravely came forward and shared their stories and experiences, will deliver real and lasting change.”
HOW YOU CAN GET HELP:
Women’s Aid has this advice for victims and their families:
- Always keep your phone nearby.
- Get in touch with charities for help, including the Women’s Aid live chat helpline and services such as SupportLine.
- If you are in danger, call 999.
- Familiarise yourself with the Silent Solution, reporting abuse without speaking down the phone, instead dialing “55”.
- Always keep some money on you, including change for a pay phone or bus fare.
- If you suspect your partner is about to attack you, try to go to a lower-risk area of the house – for example, where there is a way out and access to a telephone.
- Avoid the kitchen and garage, where there are likely to be knives or other weapons. Avoid rooms where you might become trapped, such as the bathroom, or where you might be shut into a cupboard or other small space.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse, SupportLine is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6pm to 8pm on 01708 765200. The charity’s email support service is open weekdays and weekends during the crisis – [email protected].
Women’s Aid provides a live chat service – available every day from 10am-6pm.
You can also call the freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.
Ms Eagle found the device when she took the car to the garage