How Apple AirTags Are Helping Thieves Steal Luxury Vehicles

Marques Brownlee/YouTube/Apple

Police in Canada have issued a warning after it became apparent that thieves are using Apple AirTags to help them steal luxury cars. 

Apple released its AirTag device in April 2021, describing it online as a ‘super-easy way to keep track of your stuff’.

Using Bluetooth signals, the AirTags connect to Apple’s ‘Find My’ network to allow users to keep track of items such as keys, bags and other items that are easy to misplace.

Apple AirTag on keys (Alamy)Alamy

Once connected, the tags pop up on the radar in the Find My app, ensuring the user can quickly track them down.

The device is priced from £29 and encourages customers to ‘lose your knack for losing things’, but this week York Regional Police in Canada revealed that the devices are being used for more than lost keys.

Officers are said to have investigated five incidents involving AirTags since September, with suspects placing the devices in ‘out-of-sight areas’ on luxury vehicles while they were parked in public places. Using the tracking system, thieves were then able to follow the vehicles to their owners’ homes where they broke into the cars and stole them.

A statement released by the force explained:

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.

Two months after its initial release, Apple rolled out privacy updates for AirTags to increase levels of privacy and security for users.

The updates included the tracking devices beeping at ‘a random time between eight and 24 hours when separated from their owners’, according to a spokesperson cited by Insider, marking a reduction from the previous three days before the device would beep.

At the time, the company explained:

The recent introduction of AirTag included industry-first proactive features that discourage unwanted tracking.

Following up on our commitment to continue to improve AirTag’s privacy and security, starting today we will be updating the time period after which an AirTag that is separated from its owner will play a sound when moved.

Apple AirTag (Alamy)Alamy

York Regional Police have advised vehicle owners to ‘inspect your vehicle regularly and call police if you notice any suspicious potential tracking devices’ in a bid to prevent similar thefts from taking place in the future.

The statement also encourages drivers to park their cars in locked garages, use steering wheel locks, and install locks on their car data ports to help reduce the risk of theft.

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