How thieves use Apple AirTags to steal high-end cars and track them with their iPhones

AIRTAGS and other small tracking devices are reportedly being used by thieves to track high-end cars using iPhones and steal them from people's homes.

At least five incidents have been reported in Aurora, Ontario, alone since September 2021, where a small tracking device has been used to follow the car to another location.


An AirTag was also found by cops close to a gas tank of a car in Atlanta, Georgia, but it was unclear if it was linked to a robbery, according to Fox 5 Atlanta.

In a statement released last week, York Regional Police said that tracking devices are being placed in out-of-sight areas on the target vehicles when they are parked in public places like malls or parking lots. 

The department did not name the AirTags brand directly but pictures with the press release show the Apple product.

The company itself has noted that in hundreds of incidents, only five have confirmed the use of an AirTag.

Once hidden on the car, thieves then track the targeted vehicles to the victim’s residence, where they are stolen from the driveway, authorities added.

The thieves reportedly use a screwdriver to break into the car while not setting off alarms.

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Cops say theives then make use of an electronic device normally used by mechanics to reboot the car back to factory settings.

They reportedly use this to reprogram the car to accept a key they bring with them.

In an effort to combat the new method of theft, the department encouraged drivers to lock their car in a garage when possible, to use a steering wheel lock, install a lock on the data port, and to invest in surveillance equipment.

Cops also recommended inspecting your vehicle regularly and reporting any suspicious tracking device found.

Apple released AirTags earlier this year.

The small round devices can attach to items like your keys or bag so you can track them down with your phone if you lose them.

AirTags work with the Find My app that's already on your iPhone.

TRACK KEYS OR OTHER ITEMS

The Apple website explains: "Each round AirTag is small and lightweight, features precision-etched polished stainless steel, and is IP67 water- and dust-resistant.

"A built-in speaker plays sounds to help locate AirTag, while a removable cover makes it easy for users to replace the battery. 

"AirTag features the same magical setup experience as AirPods — just bring AirTag close to iPhone and it will connect.

"Users can assign AirTag to an item and name it with a default like 'Keys' or 'Jacket,' or provide a custom name of their choosing."

Once you've set up an AirTag you'll be able to find it in the new Items tab of the Find My app.

Here you'll be able to click an AirTag that's associated with your missing item and see its current or last known location on a map.

SECURITY ISSUES RAISED

However, concerns have been raised about people putting one of the small AirTags on someone without them knowing and then using it to track them.

The latest reports on car thefts come after Apple updated Airtag trackers in June in an effort to make them less creepy.

The update was made by Apple to make it harder for people to secretly track your movements using one of the small devices.

According to The Verge, Apple also revealed its working on an Android app that will make it easier to detect if someone is stalking you via an AirTag.

Updated iPhones could tell you “AirTag Found Moving With You” but those with an Android phone or without an update would be none the wiser.

That's unless the AirTag chimed after three days of moving.

The new update will see the AirTag make noise between eight and 24 hours after separation from the device tracking it.

iPhone users are also urged to search around them if they receive an alert that an AirTags has moved with them that they do not own.

Apple was contacted for comment on the reports of car robberies.


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