Parents can now monitor teens with GPS ankle bracelets

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Many people have probably heard of GPS monitoring for teens - but it's usually done through an app on their cell phone.

A Clearwater company now offers GPS ankle bracelet monitoring, making their location available to parents, no matter what.

The owner of Tampa Bay Monitoring, Frank Kopczynski said he started up the service when a mother called him asking for help after her daughter kept running away.

Some people may think ankle monitoring for teens is extreme.

“I think the ankle monitor is kind of criminal, more so like they’re a prisoner in a sense. It kind of takes they’re free will away from them,” said Nick Lapinski, a Pinellas County resident. “But, on the other hand, I think it’s good because you know what you’re kid is getting into.”

For the parents Kopczynski serves, it’s necessary.

“I average a half a dozen a week all over the country because they see this ad, and they’re desperate,” said Kopczynski.

The service can cost $8 or $10 a day, depending on which monitor is selected.

Kopczynski said parents come to him when they have runaways, kids doing drugs or skipping school, or teenagers getting mixed up with the wrong crowd.

“Even if they try to saw on this rubber, we know immediately that they are tampering with the device,” said Kopczynski.

The ankle monitors can track where a teen goes at any time of day, and the more advanced version can even call to check up on them.

“All his friends who are likely to be getting him into trouble suddenly realize that his ankle can talk to him, and it also can hear him,” said Kopczynski.

A 17-year-old boy who FOX 13 is not identifying said he wore an ankle monitor at one point.

“I was stealing cars. I was breaking into houses, so I had one on. I didn’t like it. So I wouldn’t want no one else to wear it,” the teen said, adding it was a lesson learned.

In some cases with the ankle bracelets, Kopczynski said he recommends the parents and teens get professional help for any substance abuse or mental health issues. He also said parents have used the monitor to track teens at risk of falling into trafficking.