Car thief hides AirTag in victim's vehicle to track him

Thief hides AirTag in stranger's car, planning to steal it
Apple's AirTag Bluetooth trackers have been an ingenious idea to help iPhone owners keep better track of their belongings, but as users have recently discovered, the tiny gadgets also have a certain dark side to them. 

Particularly, they make it possible for ill-wishing parties to place the trackers on unsuspecting strangers, in order to keep tabs on their location—although Apple does have failsafe system in place to ultimately prevent this from happening in the long term.

In the second such disconcerting story of the day, a Detroit man named John Nelson was going about his daily business as usual, parking his 2018 Dodge Charger in the local shopping mall's parking lot to run an errand. When he had finished and returned to his car, Nelson's iPhone buzzed with a strange notification that popped up on the screen.

"AirTag Found Moving with You," the message on the screen read. As per the Fox 2 report (via iMore), Nelson opened the message and within a few taps, was able to figure out how to locate the suspicious tracker.

"I was able to click on that notification and it gave me an option to have the air tag emit a sound and I heard it underneath my vehicle," Nelson reported to Fox 2

Apparently, the stalker had gone the length of unscrewing the drain cap beneath the trunk of Nelson's Dodge Charger, tucking the tracker inside and far out of view. Whoever did it must not have been aware of Apple's failsafe anti-stalking system, which worked exactly as intended in this case.

The reason Nelson's vehicle was being tracked this way is most likely that it was being targeted for a planned grand theft auto.

Over the past few weeks, numerous different cases of car thieves using AirTags to track their targets have been investigated by authorities in both Canada and the United States, and likely many more across the continent that have not yet been caught.

In one other case that we reported on today, the same thing happened to a Twitter user by the name of Jeana Jeana, who found herself being stalked by an AirTag illegally placed somewhere on her car. She was alerted to it in just the same way, when an "AirTag Found Moving with You" message appeared on her iPhone. 

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Unlike Nelson, however, Jeana was not able to find the option to make the AirTag emit an audible sound. Instead, Jeana parked and searched her entire vehicle, but was unable to find the offending tracker. Growing increasingly unsettled, Jeana decided to spend the night at a friend's house, rather than risking leading a stalker to her home. 

The next day, according to Jeana's account, her friend finally located the AirTag tacked onto her car. It had been placed under the front passenger wheel well of her vehicle, tucked in well out of sight. 

Her friend immediately threw it away, although if she had gone to the police with the device, they might have actually been able to track it to its owner and press charges—as Apple keeps end-to-end encrypted location logs for just such instances of blatant abuse.

Now, Android phone owners will also be alerted if they are being tracked by an AirTag

Although Apple's failsafe warning system to prevent victims from being targeted by stalkers came to iPhone right alongside the AirTags' release in April, Android phone owners have been especially vulnerable until now, with no way of knowing if they are being followed.

As of last week, however, Apple finally released the Tracker Detect app in the Google Play Store, allowing Android users greater peace of mind in the future. 

However, despite the warning system in place on both iOS and Android, as we saw in Jeana's case, AirTags are still able to do a significant amount of damage if abused—such as revealing the victim's home location, for example— before they are picked up on and discarded.

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