In brief: When Apple launched the AirTags earlier this year, they seemed like a helpful tool to avoid losing valuable items like laptops, phones, tablets, or anything else. However, car thieves are now using them to track high-end vehicles, showing them the location of their target in real-time.
From September 2021 until now, the York Regional Police have already encountered five cases where suspects used Apple AirTags to track vehicles they were allegedly planning to steal. Thieves put the trackers on publically parked cars and situate the device in out-of-sight places, including trailer hitches, bumpers, and gas cap area. Thieves can then track the vehicle until they find it in a suitable location to steal, like the victim's residence.
Hiding Apple's AirTags in a car is only possible because of its compact shape and size. Its round shape and small dimension make hiding the tracker easier and quicker than actually stealing the car in a high-risk area. Applying an adhesive magnet to it makes placing it on any out-of-the-way place on the vehicle easy and fast.
To prevent AirTag owners from using Apple's tracker to stalk others, the manufacturer implemented countermeasures to hinder those who try. If your car has a thief's AirTag hidden somewhere and you have an iPhone, you can detect it in your vicinity. Even if you don't own an iPhone, the tracker will start emitting an alarm sound sometime between eight and 24 hours after moving from the owner's vicinity.
This time window is still more than enough time to steal the car, but you can use other measures to prevent thieves from succeeding in their objective. A couple of examples include parking your car in the garage instead of your driveway or using steering wheel locks to prevent them from driving, even if they can start it.