New York City Mayor Eric Adams has recently announced a new initiative to combat auto thefts. The plan involves handing out hundreds of Apple AirTags, which are GPS-tracking devices that can be attached to items such as keys or wallets to help locate them if lost or stolen.
During a press conference on Sunday, Mayor Adams praised the AirTags as a “really amazing piece of ingenuity” and stated that the city would distribute many of them for free, focusing on The Bronx, where residents have been most affected by car thefts.
The AirTags, which cost $29 each, are small, coin-shaped devices that use Bluetooth technology to communicate with nearby Apple devices and can also use GPS to track their location. The devices can be attached to items such as keys or placed inside a car, allowing owners to track their location if lost or stolen.
Mayor Adams hopes that this initiative will help reduce car thefts in the city, which have been on the rise in recent years. The AirTags are just one of many measures being taken by the city to combat auto theft, including increased police patrols and the use of technology such as license plate readers.
Concerns raised about unauthorized tracking despite the effectiveness of AirTags in combatting auto theft
“The aggravated number of grand larceny autos continues to drive up crime in our city,” Adams mentioned at a press conference. “This simple device, this simple AirTag, hidden in a car location that a person is not aware of, is an excellent tracking device.”Adams added, “It’s easy to monitor. You can see in real time where the vehicle is located.”
In addition to the initiative announced by Mayor Eric Adams, the Association for Better New York, a local nonprofit organization, has donated 500 Apple AirTags to the city to help combat auto theft. The police will distribute these AirTags to residents, and the city plans to fundraise to purchase even more.
The need for such measures has become increasingly urgent as auto thefts in New York City have been on the rise, with some models, such as Hyundai and Kia vehicles, being targeted more than others. A TikTok trend that started in 2021, where users demonstrated how to create a Kia using a simple tool, has led to a significant increase in thefts of these vehicles. According to data from The New York Post, the New York Police Department received reports of 104 stolen Hyundais and 99 stolen Kias in December alone.
While the AirTags have proven to be effective in helping owners locate their lost or stolen belongings, some concerns have been raised about unauthorized tracking. In a high-profile case last year, an Indiana woman was charged with murder after using an AirTag to track her boyfriend, whom she suspected was cheating on her, and then killing him.
City and tech companies address concerns over misuse of tags in combatting auto theft
Despite these concerns, using technology such as AirTags remains critical to the city’s efforts to combat auto theft. As Mayor Adams noted in his announcement, the AirTags can be a powerful tool in helping to deter theft and locate stolen vehicles. With the support of local organizations like the Association for Better New York and the dedication of law enforcement officials, the city is working hard to make its streets safer for all residents.
In February 2022, Apple released a statement regarding using its AirTag product. The report emphasized that the AirTag was designed to help individuals locate their personal belongings and not to track people or their property. Apple further condemned any malicious use of their products, stating they take concerns about unwanted tracking seriously.
While incidents of AirTag misuse are rare, Apple recognized that even one instance of such behavior is unacceptable. As of this writing, Apple has yet to respond to a request for comment from Insider outside of regular working hours.