An AirTag helped put a doomed burglar behind bars

AirTag on keychain
(Image credit: Future)

An Apple AirTag has helped reunite a woman with her stolen property and put a burglar behind bars in the United Kingdom.

The burglar entered a home via an unlocked door and stole the woman's bag and keys before making off with them. But what he didn't realize was that he had doomed himself thanks to the AirTag that he'd taken with him.

The AirTag, which was on the woman's keys, was later used to track the burglar down to a nearby hotel.

Nowhere to hide

The Northern Echo reports that the caper went down in the northern-England town of Hartlepool when a 28-year-old man walked into the woman's home and stole the bag and keys.

"Dylan Balmer crept into the woman’s home through an unlocked door before stealing a handbag and the keys to her car which had the electronic device attached to the fob," the report says. That electronic device was of course an AirTag, with the victim later approaching the burglar and accusing him.

The report says that he handed the keys over and claimed that he'd found them local police arrived. CCTV at the hotel showed that the clothes he'd worn that night matched those he was wearing when the burglary took place, with the man later pleading guilty to the whole thing in court. He'll now spend 15 months behind bars.

Apple's AirTags have been used in similar ways before, although stories of their tracking prowess being misused are also common. AirTags are sometimes used to stalk people and property, although Apple continues to tweak the Find My app and network in an attempt to minimize the risks AirTags pose.

AirTags remain one of the best Bluetooth item trackers around, despite their problems including the lack of a rechargeable battery and no way of attaching them to keys without buying an accessory.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.