Apple’s AirTags are being used in an increasing number of targeted car thefts in Canada, according to local police.

airtag in hand
Outlined in a news release from York Regional Police, investigators have identified a new method being used by thieves to track down and steal high-end vehicles that takes advantage of the AirTag’s location tracking capabilities. While the method of stealing the cars is largely conventional, the purpose of the AirTag is to track a high-end car back to a victim’s residence where it can be stolen from the driveway.

Since September 2021, police officers in York Region alone have investigated five incidents where suspects used ‌AirTags‌ in thefts of high-end vehicles. Thieves target any particularly valuable vehicles they find in public places and parking lots, placing an AirTag in an out-of-sight area, such as in the tow hitch or fuel cap, in the hope that it will not be discovered by the car’s owner.

Thieves have no way to disable Apple’s anti-tracking features that alert users when an unfamiliar nearby AirTag is tracking their location, but not all victims receive or act on the notification, or have an iPhone.

While only five thefts have been directly linked to ‌AirTags‌ so far, more than 2,000 vehicles have been stolen across the region in the past year, and the problem is likely to extend to other localities and countries around the world. The police expect to see ‌AirTags‌ used on a wider scale in an increasing number of vehicle thefts in the future.

The police have encouraged car owners to park in a locked garage if possible and inspect their vehicle regularly for trackers, especially if they receive an unknown AirTag notification, and have released two public information videos related to the growing problem.

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