A Miami-Dade police officer has been charged with stalking his ex-girlfriend using Apple AirTags secretly installed in her car to track her whereabouts.
Javier Magarin, 27, a patrol officer in the Northwest District, has been relieved of duty, the department said on Wednesday. Two weeks ago, the department charged him with misdemeanor stalking and illegal use of a tracking device – investigators say one of the AirTags found in her car was registered to his personal email.
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In Magarin’s case, the court docket does not yet list an attorney. Reached by phone on Wednesday, he said: “I don’t want to give a statement.”
His defence attorney, Giancarlo Casanova, on Wednesday night issued this statement: “No formal charges have been brought against my client. Officer Magarin is an exemplary officer and we look forward to addressing this with the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office.”
The case is believed to be the first stalking case involving AirTags in Miami-Dade, and reflect larger concerns about the use of the Apple products and other tiny GPS or Bluetooth tracking devices in nefarious ways.
ALSO READ: Two women in the US believe Apple AirTag was used to stalk them after leaving restaurant
The button-size Apple devices have been marketed as easy and cheap ways to track keys, wallets and backpacks. AirTags don’t use built-in GPS. Instead, the devices emit a continuous Bluetooth signal that is tracked via location data from nearby Apple devices.
But across the country, stories have emerged about them being used by stalkers and thieves. That includes Sports Illustrated model Brooks Nader, who revealed on Instagram in January that she’d discovered an AirTag had been slipped into her coat pocket at a bar.
In recent months, as privacy concerns have mounted, Apple has announced it was adding new privacy warnings and louder and more frequent sound alerts to help alert people who might be under tracking by a stalker.
ALSO READ: Apple app helps Android users to block stalkers
Apple phones will also send alerts to iPhones near an AirTag. In Nader’s case, for example, her iPhone alerted her that she was being tracked by an AirTag – although police could not determine who planted it.
The alerts have led to a handful of stalking arrests across the country, including a soldier in Tennessee who has been accused of using one to stalk his estranged wife, and similar domestic cases in Connecticut, Texas and Arizona.
In Magarin’s case, according to an arrest report, his ex-girlfriend was tipped off by the Apple security alert. This is what happened, according to the arrest report:
Magarin and the woman had a stormy breakup in March 2022, and the officer moved out of the woman’s home. But a few hours after he moved out, the woman heard the Apple alert beep “emitting somewhere within her vehicle.” Confronted by text, Magarin denied planting an AirTag in her car — and she could not find the device, despite the sounds.
For days, the sound persisted, as did Magarin’s denials, according to the report. So the woman parked her car at a friend’s home in Coral Gables, without telling anyone, and left in another car with a friend. Magarin, according to the report, began peppering her with phone calls telling her he knew her car was there – suggesting he was tracking her using the AirTag.
When she returned to the home, the report said, she saw Magarin parked in his truck across from her car. She left and got her car the next day.
Magarin kept messaging, also upset that she changed her Instagram password. The report said he finally admitted he’d placed the AirTag in her car, but he claimed he’d removed it. But he kept tracking her, and finally told her the device was inside her trunk, underneath a floor mat, the report said.
She found the AirTag and begged him to stop. “He responded via text by saying that he did not care because his life was already over,” the report said.
But the harassing, jealous texts and stalking continued – she inadvertently left the AirTag in her purse, which allowed him to find her at a cousin’s apartment, police said. When she threatened a restraining order, Magarin allegedly posted a photo on Instagram of a hand holding a Glock pistol with the caption: “I’ll do it in style for you,” the report said.
The harassment continued. According to police, he even logged into her personal email and cancelled a flight she was scheduled to take.
Finally, on April 26, the woman got another alert on her phone warning her about another AirTag near her. She could hear the beeps from the tag, but could not find it. So she drove to the Miami-Dade Police Northwest District station to report the stalking. Detectives found the AirTag “affixed” to the undercarriage of her car, wrapped in heavy-duty tape inside the rear bumper.
Subpoenas revealed the recovered AirTag belonged to Magarin – and had been registered with his personal email. When arrested on June 2, he invoked his right to remain silent.
Magarin was the second Miami-Dade police officer arrested over the past month.
In early May, another patrol officer, Marcel Denbow, was arrested in Broward County after police say he bought cocaine during an undercover investigation in Pembroke Pines. He’s awaiting trial, and has been relieved of duty “pending termination,” Miami-Dade police said on Wednesday. – Miami Herald/Tribune News Service