AirTag battery coverSource: Joe Keller / iMore

What you need to know

  • AirTags are being used to steal cars.
  • The York Regional Police have worked on five cases since September where an AirTag was involved.

Apple's AirTags are being used by car thieves to track down high-end vehicles.

In a new report released by the York Regional Police in Ontario, Canada, the department is warning about a new method that car thieves are using to identify the vehicles they want to steal: AirTags. According to the report, the suspects leave an AirTag on a vehicle, track it to a residence, and then steal it from the victim's driveway.

Since September 2021, officers have investigated five incidents where suspects have placed small tracking devices on high-end vehicles so they can later locate and steal them. Brand name 'air tags' are placed in out-of-sight areas of the target vehicles when they are parked in public places like malls or parking lots. Thieves then track the targeted vehicles to the victim's residence, where they are stolen from the driveway.

The police are recommending the following safety tips to prevent their vehicles from being stolen:

  • If possible, park your vehicle in a locked garage. Most vehicles are stolen from a driveway
  • Use a steering wheel lock. It will also act as a visible deterrent
  • Install a lock on the data port. This simple device can be purchased online and blocks access to the computer port where the thieves gain access to reprogram the vehicle's keys
  • Consider purchasing a quality video surveillance system. Ensure cameras are properly placed and functioning for day and night time use. Familiarize yourself with the system so it can be reviewed and accessed easily
  • Inspect your vehicle regularly and call police if you notice any suspicious potential tracking devices

Apple has been getting a lot of heat about the security and privacy issues that can occur with its new item tracker. While it is handy for keeping up with the location of your keys, wallet, backpack, and more, it can also be used for a nefarious purpose like the one outlined above.

Apple has released some safety features to ensure you can identify an unknown AirTag if it moves with you, including an audible sound and a notification on your iPhone. However, the second feature currently only works if you have an iPhone. Apple has committed to making an Android app that would help protect those with a non-Apple device but it still has yet to release anything.