According to one recent study, the subject of stalking may be a much more severe problem than any of us probably realized ― particularly in the United States.

GPS Tracking

The study revealed that in a given year, roughly 7.5 million people become stalking victims. About 15 percent of all women and, interestingly, about 6 percent of all men say that they’ve experienced stalking victimization at some point in their lives to the point where they felt as if they were close to being harmed. The majority of people are actually stalked by someone they know, too ― this was true of 61 percent of women and about 44 percent of men. Usually, this is a former intimate partner, but it can be anyone ― a jaded friend or family member, or an acquaintance from work who took an argument a bit too seriously.

In most cases, stalking takes the form of a stalker approaching his or her victim at a place where the victim does not want the person to be. This can include but is certainly not limited to showing up unannounced at one’s job, or even paying them an after-hours visit at home. The latter was the situation that one woman recently found herself in, only she didn’t take things lying down. But after getting law enforcement and eventually the courts involved, she discovered that her own personal situation was a lot more dangerous than she first thought.

The Michigan Woman and the Armed Stalker: Here’s What Happened

Recently, a Michigan woman was parked in her car outside her home when Shawn Kelley Thomason, 39, pulled up behind her and blocked her in her driveway. Not only that, but he got out of the car and tried to open hers ― luckily, the woman had her doors locked.

Thomason tried repeatedly, but he fled when some of the woman’s neighbors finally came outside to see what was going on. The woman said that she had recently moved into a new area and had cut off all contact with Thomason, refusing to give him her new address. Somehow, he found her anyway.

After calling the police, local officers paid Thomason a visit. Not only did he have a loaded gun, electrical tape and a series of other suspicious items in the car… but they also found not one but two GPS trackers on the woman’s car. The battery on one of the trackers was dead, but the other was working perfectly fine.

As it turns out, that’s exactly how Thomason found the woman ― even though she’d traveled to a new area and made every effort to hide her whereabouts. Shawn Kelly Thomason was eventually charged with felony and gross misdemeanor counts of stalking, a gross misdemeanor of installing a tracking device without a court order, and one count of misdemeanor domestic assault ― according to Blue Earth Country District Court filings.

Thomason and the woman had been in a previous relationship, but, as you can see, things went south. Thomason told law enforcement officers that he became “very upset” when the woman ended their relationship after he had purchased her the car that he eventually found her in.

Not only did Thomason drive his own vehicle from his home to the new location, but, once he arrived, he rented cars to keep a low profile and to prevent the woman from finding out he was there. In addition to the loaded handgun, police also found a voice recorder, a bag with women’s clothing and toiletries, and four different cellphones.

Thankfully, this particular story had a happy ending ― the man was caught (and charged), and the woman is now safe and sound. But not all of us are that lucky, and stalking victims in particular definitely have an uphill battle ahead of them. If anything, this serves as an important reminder to us all that you can never be too careful with your own safety, particularly in the digital world we’re now living in.