The York Regional Police (YRP) in the suburbs north of Toronto reports that auto thieves are utilising Apple AirTags to steal cars.
The thieves hunt for desired cars in public settings, such as shopping mall parking lots, according to a public service broadcast issued by the YRP yesterday (Dec. 2). When they identify a car they desire, they hide an AirTag inside the gas-fill flap door, in a tow hitch, inside a bumper, or in an external electrical port where the owner is unlikely to see it.
According to the YRP, there have been at least five such events in the area since September.
In a YouTube video broadcast by the YRP Wednesday, Detective Jeff McKercher said, “We’ve started to detect a new trend emerge in the auto-theft industry” (Dec. 2). “It’s these GPS and Bluetooth-enabled tagging devices that they’re using to install on different vehicles that they really want to steal.”
The car thieves use the AirTag later that night to track the vehicle to the owner’s house and take it from the driveway. They break into the car with screwdrivers or other tools, reprogram the key settings with an electronic tool plugged into the car’s on-board diagnostics port, and drive away.
“By using an iPhone, they can always tell where the vehicle’s location is,” McKercher added. “They can almost wait and commit their theft on their watch, maybe later on in the night, and it always gives them the location of where that vehicle is being stored at the time.”
According to McKercher, Lexus, Toyota, and Honda crossover SUVs, as well as the ever-popular Ford F-Series trucks, are currently the most desirable for auto thieves in the Toronto suburbs.
In the public-service message and two associated YouTube clips that were posted yesterday, the YRP never uses the word “Apple” (Dec. 2). The graphics and words, on the other hand, make it very clear what kind of devices they’re talking about.
“Car thieves are thinking differently,” begins the other YouTube clip, which almost looks like an Apple promotional video. “Typically, thieves roam residential neighborhoods (sic) looking for specific models of vehicles. Now they are roaming parking lots and leaving a tracking device called an AirTag on target vehicles. Thieves then track the vehicle using the AirTag and steal it at a later time.”
If an AirTag is separated from its associated iPhone for more than 8 hours, it will begin to chirp. Even yet, car thieves have plenty of time, and the chirps may be lost in the din of a car’s engine.
When a “mystery” AirTag that isn’t associated with your iPhone gets home with you, your iPhone is meant to notify you. However, this does not always appear to operate, and those without iPhones will not receive the alerts.
When we contacted Apple for comment, we were directed to this Apple support website, which explains what to do if you find another person’s AirTag in your possessions or hear chirps from an AirTag that has been separated from its owner.
AirTags can also assist in the recovery of stolen vehicles.
Car owners can also utilise AirTags to recover stolen automobiles, to be fair. Over the summer, FoxNews.com’s Gary Gastelu conducted tests and discovered that AirTags were just as successful at locating lost automobiles as car-tracking devices that can cost hundreds of dollars to install or come with monthly fees. A single AirTag is $29, while a set of four is $99.
Dan Guido, a digital security expert, told his Twitter followers in August how AirTags assisted him in recovering a stolen electric scooter. He did warn, however, that the scooter thief appeared to have seen and attempted to remove an AirTag put on the scooter (Guido had placed one in a visible location and another buried inside the handlebars).
My scooter was stolen last week. Unknown to the thief, I hid two Airtags inside it. I was able to use the Apple Find My network and UWB direction finding to recover the scooter today. Here’s how it all went down:
— Dan Guido (@dguido) August 10, 2021