If you’ve purchased a Spark Nano 3.0 and plan to use it to secretly track the movement of a vehicle, there’s a right and wrong way to do it. Done correctly the device could be a goldmine of valuable information. Done incorrectly it could yield no useful results and land you in jail.
In terms of federal law the only concrete “regulations” we have come from a Supreme Court ruling sent down earlier this year. But that ruling is very narrowly focused to only include law enforcement agencies and some of the surveillance practices they use. We have no federal guidelines about the private use of GPS tracking systems.
State law is a different matter. As far as we know they’re only a couple of states (Texas is one of them) that regulate GPS tracking. But you should check with your state before you go about planting your Spark Nano on a vehicle.
As a general it is legal to track a vehicle in this way if you or another family member living in your household owns it. In the case of a vehicle not owned by you or a family member you can only install a GPS tracking device if:
- you are using it to obtain the same information you would through physical surveillance
- you don’t have to enter the vehicle to install it
- you don’t have to trespass on private property to install it
- the vehicle is in plain view during the installation
- you don’t hardwire it to the vehicle’s electrical system
In a nutshell, you’re allowed to do whatever you want with your own cars. With the vehicles of other people you are limited to a temporary installation on the outside of the vehicle using a battery operated unit. It seems pretty straightforward.
Placing the Spark Nano
If you’re working with your own cars the only thing you need to know is that metal interferes with the device’s signal. Therefore, putting your Spark Nano in the trunk is a bad idea. You might try under the seats, in the glove box, under the carpeting, behind the door panel, or even high up under the dash. If you’d prefer an external installation you can attach it underneath a plastic bumper, behind the plastic in the wheel wells, between the grill and radiator, etc. Just so long as the device is not completely surrounded by metal you’ll be fine.
If you’re placing the device on a vehicle you don’t own you need to be very careful. The quickest and easiest way to do so is to purchase a magnetic case the Spark Nano can easily be slipped into. You can quickly reach your hand underneath the car and attach it to one of the side rails of the frame. The quicker and easier you can make the installation or less likely you’ll be discovered and the less likely you’ll be in violation of the law for altering the vehicle in question.