Airtag Attack

Airtag+Attack

Madi Miller, Journalist

What once was a trusted new product has turned to an unlocked fear of vehicle owners everywhere. Apple’s Airtags, an innovative way to find lost valuables, are being abused by criminals to take advantage of expensive car owners. Not only that, but these products are also being exploited to track and stalk people. With a price tag of only $29, thieves have found the ultimate pawn.

It all started in April 2021 when Apple Airtags first came to the market. A great new tech piece in theory, but criminals quickly saw past the innocent appeal. It’s simple, really, thieves camp out in public parking places, waiting for an expensive or luxury

The new way of stealing cars Photo credit: Google Images

car to enter, and for the passengers to leave, the theives then place an Airtag on the vehicle, and then they know exactly where the car is and when they can steal it. Some criminals choose to follow the cars to more “out of sight areas,” while others go so far as to follow the victims back to their driveways, that way they can retrieve the car and maybe even what is inside the home too.

The York Regional Police Department has recently noticed the rise in this modern crime and have reported that an estimated 2000 cars have been stolen using this new piece of technology.

So, what has Apple been doing to stop these crimes? To start, there is a feature that sends a notification to victims who are at risk of being followed. They are made aware that an unknown accessory is tracking them which helps those in danger to know their situation. In addition, Apple has helped law enforcement find the owners of the airtags being used in crimes. Apple spokesman, Alex Kirschner says that the company is “Committed to Airtag’s privacy and security,” and that they take this situation “very seriously.” Car owners everywhere sure hope so. Kirschner goes on to say that “If users ever feel their safety is at risk, they are encouraged to contact local law enforcement who can work with Apple to provide any available information about the unknown AirTag.”

Apple Airtags Photo credit: Google Images

Thieves haven’t just stopped at cars, however. They have also been using the coin sized tool to stalk and track people. These criminals place an Airtag on things like one’s car or even purse, and then proceed follow them with, in some situations, unsettling intents. An example of someone who has become a victim to staking through the use of Airtags is Ashley Estrada, a 24 year old woman who was running errands in Los Angeles when she recieved the notification stating that an unknown accessory was tracking her. She immediatly called the police, who told her that the situation was a nonemergancy, and to file a report the next morning.

“I was terrified and frustrated that there was nothing I could do about it””

— Michaela Clough, victim of Airtag stalking

She says, “I felt so violated, I just felt like, who’s tracking me? What was their intent with me? It was scary.” She goes on to say that “Apple probably released this product with the intent to do good, but this shows that the technology can be used for good and bad purposes.”

Ms. Edstada found and removed the airtag, and is now doing well. Meanwhile another victim, Michela Clough,  received the notification that she was being tracked as she was leaving her gym. Police said that she did not have enough evidence to prove that she was being stalked so she had to turn to Apple to stop the tracking. They were able to disconnect the device although it was never found.

Although the police did not help in these certain situations, it is advised that if someone does receive this notification on their phone that they call the police, and do not go straight home. Car owners all over the US hope that this situation can improve and that they can feel safe parking again.