AirTags are cool for lost stuff but don't expect them to be of any use when something's stolen

Find My Precision Finding Airtag Hero
Find My Precision Finding Airtag Hero (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

When Apple announced AirTag it very much leaned into the tracker being used to find things that have been lost. That makes sense. After all, it's how other Bluetooth trackers have been marketed as well. But even Apple must have known that people would use them for things that could be stolen, too. Sometimes both.

The humble wallet is a great example of something that can both be lost and stolen, and you might expect an AirTag to help in both scenarios. But as people are already finding, it isn't as simple as that. Mainly because thieves already know what an AirTag looks like and, as soon as they spy it anywhere near their ill-gotten gains, it'll be tossed away.

Over to a Redditor, whose name I can't put here, telling their tale of woe. The AirTag did its job and directed its owner to the spot where it was discarded, sans wallet:

The culprit eventually switched trains and then the Airtags stopped at a station. Me being the hopeful fool I was, went into the train station, and used the "Find" feature and eventually, I did indeed find the Airtag; just not the wallet. I guess the thief figured out what it was and tossed it into the subway tracks, where it still remains right now.

That's going to be a common story, too. In fact ...

So, yeah. AirTags are great for things that we lose but not things that we might have stolen. That is, unless there's some way to make sure the AirTag isn't seen or can't be removed. Maybe we'll see a new line of bags that have secret compartments in them or wallets that have an AirTag built into them in such a way that they can't removed.

This is, of course, a problem that all Bluetooth trackers have to contend with. Tile makes some trackers that are designed to slide into the card area of a wallet, but they're chunks of black plastic with a button and the Tile logo – no thief is going to mistake that for a credit card.

Maybe we need Apple to build an AirTag into Apple Card, somehow. There, I fixed it.

For now, feel free to put an AirTag wherever you want. Just don't expect it to save the day if something get stolen, unfortunately.

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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.