In an unfortunate twist many people had feared, thieves in Canada have found an unintended use for Apple’s AirTag. They are using the locator devices to track high-end vehicles they would like to steal, according to local police. The tracker works with the Find My network to anonymously share its location across Apple’s network of iOS devices.
Canadian thieves find a malicious use for AirTag
Outlined in a news release from York Regional Police, investigators have found a new method being used by thieves to track down and steal cars using AirTag’s location tracking functionality. Thieves are now sticking the tracking device on a car they find in a public place. Then, they use the device’s tracking capabilities to find that car later, mostly from a victim’s residence where it can be stolen from the driveway.
Since September 2021, York Region police officers have investigated five incidents where suspects used AirTags to take high-end vehicles. Thieves target valuable vehicles in public places, like street parking and parking lots. They place the tracker in an out-of-sight area on the vehicles, such as in a tow hitch or fuel cap, so the owner is unlikely to discover it.
Apple does offer anti-tracking features that alert users when an unknown AirTag is moving with them. The Find My app will notify users when a nearby AirTag is in close proximity to them with a message on the screen: AirTag Found Moving With You. While thieves have no way to disable that, there is no guarantee that all victims receive or act on the notification. Nor do all of them have iPhones or Apple devices.
The York Regional Police have linked AirTags to just five thefts in about two months, but the problem is expected to grow. In 2020, more than 2,000 vehicles were stolen across the region. Out of those, the authorities only managed to recover 350 vehicles and arrested about 100 people. It is likely that this method of tracking vehicles is being used in countries around the globe.
Police urge car owners to be cautious, urging them to park in a locked garage if possible and regularly inspect their car – especially if they receive an unknown AirTag notification.