If you’re the type of person who is constantly searching for your keys, AirTags seem like a godsend: a compact device that can be tracked almost anywhere in the world, without an expensive GPS and data subscription. Unfortunately, it seems like the kind of people who are looking for the keys to other people think the same.
A new report The York Regional Police in Aurora, Ontario, identified five separate incidents in which thieves slipped an AirTag into a “high-end vehicle” with the intent to steal it. The thieves’ technique is to leave the tracker somewhere in the vehicle and then follow its location in Apple’s Busar app to find out where it is parked:
Since September 2021, officers have investigated five incidents in which suspects attached small tracking devices to high-end vehicles so that they could then be located and stolen. AirTag brand devices are placed out of sight on target vehicles when parked in public places such as shopping malls or parking lots. The thieves then track the vehicles to the victim’s residence, where they are stolen.
Thieves generally use tools like screwdrivers to enter vehicles through the driver’s or passenger’s door, making sure not to set off alarms. Once inside, an electronic device, normally used by mechanics to reprogram factory settings, connects to the diagnostic port under the dash and programs the vehicle to accept a key that the thieves brought with them. Once the new key is programmed, the vehicle starts and the thieves take it away.
When Apple first released AirTags to early this year , concerns were raised about dire use cases. Apple responded with a series of measures against unauthorized tracking, but they are designed to keep people to except instead of cars. An AirTag away from its owner sounds an alarm, alerting anyone nearby, but it can take up to 24 hours for the alarm to sound, more than enough time to steal a car in the dead of night.
For those interested, there are some ways to defend against these types of attacks. Disable Apple’s Search network It can prevent your phone from reporting the location of nearby AirTags, and third-party bluetooth scanning apps They can inform you that a new device has appeared near you. As always, vigilance is key – simply knowing the threat is there better prepares you to deal with it.