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Man Convicted of Using GPS to Stalk Ex in S.F. - August 20, 2018 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Man Convicted of Using GPS to Stalk Ex in S.F.

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New technologies mean better ways to track your keys, your kids, and unfortunately, your exes. On Friday, San Francisco resident Joshua Elliott, 45, was found guilty by a jury of stalking and domestic violence after he spent months following his ex around town. 

Court records state that the relationship turned sour after the pair lived together for two months in 2017. The victim ended it after Elliott became possessive, claiming he felt unsafe. But Elliott appeared to have a hard time letting go; starting in January of this year, he sent his ex messages that hinted he knew his location. On one occasion, the victim spotted Elliott driving by him in his car at 2 a.m. as he left San Francisco General Hospital. A week later, the victim found Elliott parked outside his house in San Pablo, Calif, where he was told things were going to “get worse.”

They did. In mid-February, Elliott followed his ex across the Bay Bridge at 4:50 a.m., and confronted him outside his work. The victim recorded their conversation in the parking lot, at which point Elliott attacked him. His ex called the police, and an investigation launched. 

A few weeks later, the victim, curious about how Elliott had tracked him down, discovered a Spytec GPS tracking device on his vehicle. The devices are inexpensive (starting at $49.99 online) and are commonly targeted at law enforcement. The victim left it in place so that his discovery wouldn’t be uncovered, but the stalking only got worse. He began sleeping at work in his car, as he knew there was a security camera aimed at the entrance of the parking lot, and he hoped it would incriminate Elliott. In March Elliott confronted him, and police ultimately made an arrest.

The GPS tracker was key to the case; an examination of the data showed that Elliott used a geofence feature, which allowed him to set up an alert system when his ex entered a certain radius of several locations. Based on the Spytec device discovered on the victim’s car, Elliott had alerts set up for the victim’s home, his mother’s home, his place of business, a friend’s house, and even his grandparents’ place of residence. 

“This victim was absolutely terrorized by his stalker, he was living in fear,” said District Attorney George Gascón.  “I commend him for getting out of an abusive relationship, and I urge anyone living in fear to come forward and to contact authorities.  We are here to help.”   

“We all have the freedom to decide who we want to be with,” said Assistant District Attorney Courtney Burris, who prosecuted the case.  “But when a decision to end a relationship is met with threats, harassment, and intimidation, that is criminal, and there will be consequences.”

Elliott will be sentenced on Sept. 25.