Monday, April 27, 2009

"Woman Who Was Spied On Plans To Sue"

Wednesday, April 1, 2009 4:22 PM
Updated: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 7:29 PM
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Teej Cummins' outlook on life changed when she stopped at a Shawnee Hills store in September.

When she left the store, a stranger approached her and told her that someone did something to her car.

Cummins said that the stranger told her that a black van drove up. A man with a black box got out and crawled underneath her car, attached the box and then drove off.

It turned out that the person in the van was a private investigator who was looking into Cummins' job injury claim, 10 Investigates' Paul Aker reported.

He used a GPS tracking device. With a magnet, the GPS usually sticks, undetected, to a car's undercarriage. Cummins said that she thought whatever was hiding under car might be a bomb so she called police.

"The officer (asked), 'Do you have any enemies?'" Cummins said. "I remember that moment and the sure panic."

Al Smith, a private investigator, uses similar devices. He said that when a GPS is installed, he can watch a driver's every move on his computer screen.

"With technology today - if you use it right - it's better for both parties," Smith said.

Private investigators said that the tracking devices make it easier to do what they have always done, follow people. They said that watching from a computer can be even safer than chasing in a car.

Investigators say the practice is legal.

Ohio State Moritz College of Law professor Ric Simmons said that Ohio does not protect people from tracking devices.

"It's really not criminal in the sense that all he was doing was following someone in a public place and that's been legal and been allowed forever," Simmons said.

Simmons' comment brings no comfort to Cummins, who now sees trouble where others see nothing.

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