Kidnapped, a teenager is found by the FBI thanks to her Switch

His ordeal lasted 11 days. Victim of a kidnapping, this teenager can thank her Nintendo Switch. She saved his life.

Credits: Lucas Santos via Unsplash

On August 3, 2022, a 15-year-old girl was kidnapped by Ethan Roberts. This 28-year-old pedophile would have exchanged with her on the internet before crossing the country to meet her in Virginia. But after eleven days of a hunt across the United States, the FBI managed to locate the young girl, putting an end to her ordeal at the same time.

She owes her salvation only to his Nintendo Switch, and the intelligence of a friend. The game console had been the only object she had managed to take with her during her kidnapping. During her abduction, she connects to the internet with her console. She doesn’t even think she can be located, but instead hopes to chat online with friends.

When connecting the console to the internet, one of his relatives receives a notification on his own console. This system was set up by Nintendo (and other manufacturers) to allow people who know each other to play together. Alerted by this notification, she warns the authorities.

The FBI then only needs a few hours to locate the console and send a team there. Franck Milstead, former Director of Public Security in Arizona, acknowledged that this heroic gesture was far from trivial, especially since it was carried out by a child. For his part, Ethan Roberts was sentenced to 30 years in prison for child pornography, abduction of minors with the intention of sexually assaulting him. He did not appeal the decision.

All tapped?

If this case ends well, it demonstrates once again the ease with which the authorities are able to monitor our every move. In a few hours, the FBI had the girl’s exact address, as well as all of its online actions. If these data were useless here, the mere fact that they are collected should keep us alert to the fate we give to our personal data.

The geolocation of connected objects has become obvious in 2023, but the latter does not only bring Happy Ends. With its “AirTag” tracker, Apple knows this better than anyone. Since the sale of this product a little over a year ago, cases of harassment have multiplied. The classic scenario being a jealous and possessive ex-husband seeking to spy on the slightest actions and gestures of his former companion.

The most tragic example of this situation remains the death of a young man, killed by his girlfriend in an Indianapolis pub. By using an Apple AirTag, she had been able to know his precise position. She therefore went there before rushing him in the car. When the police arrived on the spot, the man was already dead, beaten by his companion.

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