Police warn Apple AirTags are being used by thieves to track and steal high-end vehicles

Canadian police ware warning that Apple AirTags are being used by thieves to track and steal high-end vehicles.

Apple's AirTag
Apple’s AirTag

York Regional Police Ontario, Canada:

Investigators with the York Regional Police Auto/Cargo Theft Unit are advising residents they have identified a new method being used by thieves to track and steal high-end vehicles across York Region.

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.

Thieves typically use tools like screwdrivers to enter the vehicles through the driver or passenger door, while ensuring not to set off alarms. Once inside, an electronic device, typically used by mechanics to reprogram the factory setting, is connected to the onboard diagnostics port below the dashboard and programs the vehicle to accept a key the thieves have brought with them. Once the new key is programmed, the vehicle will start and the thieves drive it away.

Over the past year, more than 2,000 vehicles have been stolen across the region. The Auto/Cargo Theft Unit and uniform officers have remained active and aggressive in efforts to combat this issue including initiating several major projects which has led to more than 100 people arrested, significant charges laid and approximately 350 vehicles being recovered in the last year. Despite this success, thieves are constantly developing new methods to facilitiate these thefts the number of vehicle thefts continue to rise.

Vehicle owners are encouraged to consider the following safety tips to help 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

MacDailyNews Take: Apple AirTags offer more protection from misuse than competing item trackers.

If you see an “AirTag Found Moving With You” message on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS or iPadOS 14.5 or later, an AirTag that has been separated from the person who registered it is traveling with you, and the owner might be able to see its location. It’s possible that the AirTag might be attached to an item you’re borrowing. Follow these steps to turn off “AirTag Detected” notifications or disable the AirTag:

  1. Tap the message.
  2. Tap Continue. If you need help finding the AirTag, tap Play Sound.*
  3. If the AirTag is attached to an item you’re borrowing, you can tap Pause Safety Alerts to turn off “AirTag Detected” notifications for one day. If you’re borrowing an AirTag from a member of your Family Sharing group, you can turn off Safety Alerts for one day or indefinitely.
  4. You can tap Learn About This AirTag to see its serial number if the owner marked it as lost.
  5. To disable the AirTag and stop sharing your location, tap Instructions to Disable AirTag and follow the onscreen steps. If you feel your safety is at risk, contact your local law enforcement who can work with Apple. You might need to provide the AirTag or its serial number.
  • If you can’t play a sound, the AirTag might not be with you anymore. If it was with you overnight, its identifier might have changed. Find My uses the identifier to determine that it’s the same AirTag moving with you. If you believe the AirTag is still with you, look through your belongings to try to find it, or wait to see if another alert appears as you move from location to location during the day. If the AirTag is within range of the person who registered it, you also won’t be able to play a sound.

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  1. Actual headline should be… Modern cars with fancy electronic security easy to steal. It basically suggests some old-fashioned physical deterrents to prevent or discourage thief. Thieves finding a car to steal is not the primary issue.

  2. Here is a crazy idea. How about adjusting car theft punishment to be about five times harsher? When was the last time this has been changed? 30, 50 years ago? Car are a. It more expensive. Need to make the punishment high enough to deter criminals.

    1. Unfortunately harsh penalties as deterrence just doesn’t work. If they even know what the penalty is, most thieves think they’ll be the one to beat the odds and not get caught. So all you get is more taxes to keep people in jail longer. Meanwhile the vast majority learn their lesson (or just grow up) in shorter sentences than they’re getting now. Locking people up even longer just a waste of money, and waste of lives.

  3. Apple, the security company, sells an inexpensive, highly concealable item that anyone can plant as a tracker. Well done.

    MDN Take: “We suck les than competing trackers”. Priceless

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