The Canadian police in York have reported that Apple AirTags are being used as a new method by thieves to track and steal vehicles. While it’s something reported in Canada, this is still something we all need to look out for.
Police report that the “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”. To be specific, thieves have been reported to steal “high-end vehicles”. But even if your own vehicle isn’t high-end, having the possibility that your car could be tracked by something as small as an AirTag is pretty nerve-wracking.
According to the news release, the thieves would track the targeted vehicles to the victim’s residence, where they are stolen from the driveway. They have also added pictures that illustrate where a thief would hide the AirTag—which can be hidden a bit too well. It would appear that the AirTag can hide inside a trailer connector of a truck.
Once the thieves find out where you live, they would find a way to get in the vehicle “through the driver or passenger door” with something like a screwdriver. They would enter the vehicles through the driver or passenger door with a tool like a screwdriver while ensuring not to set off alarms. Once they’re 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. They will then start the vehicle and drive away. But just to be clear, the AirTags are only used to track the vehicles—not to help break them in.
It’s a bit strange that using AirTags can work with car thefts. Apple has an alert system built into their devices to let their users know that a rogue AirTag might be around them. But most likely, the AirTag can be far away enough for your phone to not detect it.
York Police have posted some advice to help prevent you from car theft. The advice includes parking your car in a locked garage instead of a more open driveway (a gated community or guarded building can also be safer!), using a steering wheel lock which also acts as a visible deterrent, locking the “data port” to stop thieves from gaining access to reprogram the vehicle’s keys, purchasing a quality video surveillance system, and inspecting your vehicle regularly. You should also call the police if you notice any suspicious potential tracking devices.
While only five thefts have been directly linked to AirTags so far, more than 2,000 vehicles have been stolen across Canada in the past year. The police also expect to see AirTags used on a wider scale in an increasing number of vehicle thefts in the future—so keep alert and try to stay safe.