Model says she was tracked by an AirTag that was left in her coat pocket

AirTag Setup
AirTag Setup (Image credit: Joe Keller / iMore)

What you need to know

  • A model says she was tracked by an AirTag that had been placed into her coat pocket.
  • The woman's iPhone alerted her to the unknown AirTag.
  • It's thought the AirTag had been in her pocket for five hours before being found.

Sports Illustrated model Brooks Nader says that she was tracked by an unknown AirTag and wasn't aware until her iPhone warned her of the fact.

This isn't the first time that an AirTag has been used to track someone without their knowledge, but this is probably the most high-profile incident yet. Nader says that she was at a restaurant in Manhatten when she believes someone slipped the AirTag into her coat pocket after leaving it on a chair. It was five hours before her iPhone alerted her that she had an AirTag traveling with her.

From Sports Illustrated:

"I was at a restaurant/bar in Tribeca waiting on someone alone and had my coat on the chair behind me," she said in an Instagram story video. "Then I went to meet some girlfriends at a bar nearby. I didn't get any notifications. Then I went to the next spot, no notifications. Then, stupidly, I was walking home alone because I live in the neighborhood. Around 11:30 p.m., I was already on my walk home when I got the notifications that said someone is tracking you and has been for a while. So I freaked out. And then, of course, my phone died. So, my man was freaking out."

Thankfully the AirTag and iPhone combo worked as they should and Nader received a notification warning her of the tracker's presence. The five-hour gap is the main issue here, something that could well be explained by the fact she was in crowded places and the iPhone wasn't able to discern that the AirTag was on her person, not in someone else's pocket. It's possible it only alerted her when she was alone because that was when the AirTag had to be with her.

Of course, the fact the iPhone sent an alert as it should and a possible explanation for the delay in notification won't help allay fears that AirTags can be used in this way, nor should it. Other trackers could be used in a similar way, but the ubiquity of iPhones means that AirTags are more likely to provide an accurate location. And while Tile and other companies have sold trackers for years, Apple's entry into the market has undoubtedly made such devices more high profile — and horrible people are beginning to learn how they could misuse them.

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.

  • Stalker should have used a Tile. Then she'd never have known. Apple is actually addressing this.
  • Just wanting to note that the 5 hour delay probably has nothing to do with other devices or anything like that. There is a delay built into the system intentionally. If your stuff is stolen, you don't want your thief immediately alerted that they are being tracked. If you make this time short, you may not know something is gone, before the thief has disabled the tracker. Make it to long and this stalking issue gets worse. One use case I've considered is a grade school kid's backpack. Not to track the kid, which isn't always a bad idea, but to see if that backpack was left at school or at a friends house when kiddo comes home without it. Now imagine a classroom with a bunch of these going off during classes.
  • She had a great outcome in this case.
    Apple had taken the best approach to this problem. There are many other GPS tracking devices that would never let you know. Apple is just the one that everyone wants to bash, so these stories get blown up more than they should.
  • Horrible people aren't learning how to use them tech blogs are teaching them how to use them that way by way overblowing every story of them working like they are supposed to.
  • This technology has been around for decades. Starting with the first gps satellites. It’s difficult in today’s society to have a tech to enhance your life, but then have to deal with the criminals that abuse it.
  • Apple needs to abandon the AirTag, remotely deactivate every last one of them, and refund everyone who got one. There's way too many privacy concerns over these **** things and it's not worth it.
  • As should Tile, Chipolo, Trakr, Samsung, or any device like the Spytec GPS GL300 GPS Tracker (Amazon). That doesn't require any other phones to be close BTW, it uses GPS and the cell network, and is cheaper than the AirTag (not counting the subscription). The whole industry of tracking your assets just needs to go away. /S
    If you want to do this, the lack of AirTags is no deterrent.
  • Apple has taken solid, common sense measures to address misuse of AirTags and has been on it since the first day we all became aware of potential bad actors with these things. Putting the onus upon Apple to undercut their product because of a handful of bad actors is nonsensical and speaks of a level of entitlement that is astounding. And the person in here saying Apple should abandon AirTags (implying an "or they should be forced to" in the statement) is not better. In fact it's worse. There is clearly a market for these things, and the vast majority of customers/users are using them for legitimate purposes rather than nefarious ones. Your argument is the same as the losing argument against VCR's when they came out. The movie industry sued to have them banned because someone *might* record a movie instead of paying for the license/royalty to view/use the movie. The courts rightly called BS and ruled that just because someone *can* misuse something doesn't mean it should be banned. The home movie industry today? Well, you decide if that's a profitable business today. And what's next? Are you going to argue that Nissan, Ford, Tesla, and other automakers stop manufacturing automobiles because a small minority of people might drive under the influence? Your argument (and to some degree the attitude expressed in some of the articles here on iMore) is nonsense, and highly paternalistic at best. Grown adults can and do manage personal risks every day. The product isn't he issue, it's people. Those who misuse the product are the problem and are also the smallest minority of users.