Multiple reports emerge of Apple AirTags being used to track and stalk people in South Florida
Last year, Apple released their new AirTags, small tracking devices—about the size of a quarter—that attach to keys, wallets, purses, and backpacks to help people find often misplaced personal items. However, in recent months, numerous reports are emerging of Apple AirTags being used to stalk and track people in South Florida.
The devices are small and light enough that they can easily be placed in someone’s car, pocket or belongings by someone else, allowing them to be tracked unknowingly.
Below are just a few of the alarming reports in South Florida of people realizing they’ve been tracked by an AirTag unknowingly:
- A West Palm Beach woman found an Apple AirTag in her purse and was being followed without her knowledge by her ex-husband.
- A Lake Worth woman received a notification on her phone that an AirTag was following her for several hours.
- A Palm Beach Gardens woman found an Apple AirTag hidden in the back of her SUV.
In addition, reports are emerging across the state of kids finding Apple AirTags in their backpacks and criminals using Apple AirTags to steal cars and trucks.
How do Apple AirTags work?
Apple AirTags are Bluetooth-enabled tracking devices that cost about $30 each. The small devices attach to items—such as keys, wallets, and purses—and connect via a Bluetooth signal to the Find My app on iPhones. Through the app, users can see the precise location of their AirTag items.
Yet stalkers, carjackers and other criminals are misusing these coin-sized devices to track people and vehicles.
How do you know if an Apple AirTag is tracking you?
Apple designed AirTags with a set of proactive features to discourage unwanted tracking that that inform users if an unknown Apple AirTag might be with them.
- First, your iPhone will ping you if an unrecognized AirTag device is found to be moving with you over time. If that alert goes unnoticed, the AirTag itself will eventually start making a sound.
- Second, if an unknown AirTag is away from its owner for an extended period of time (Apple doesn’t specify how long but says between eight and 24 hours), the device will automatically ping—but the alert only lasts for about 15 seconds.
One of the biggest concerns about these “safety” features is that they do not protect people with Androids—which is about 50% of the U.S. population. Only people with iPhones will be automatically alerted to the presence of an AirTag.
- For Android Users: Android has an application to detect AirTags, but you have to proactively install the app. Learn more here.
How to protect yourself from being tracked by an Apple AirTag
Apple AirTags often go unnoticed because they are so small and easily hidden. The best way to protect yourself from being tracked by an Apple AirTag is to be aware of your surroundings and regularly check your personal belongings or vehicle.
- Check your clothing and bags: Apple AirTags have been found in jackets, purses, backpacks, luggage, and even sewn-in to clothing and bag pockets. Regularly empty pockets and feel for any AirTags in fabric liners.
- Check your vehicle: In most reports where AirTags have been found in vehicles, the devices have been placed in wheel wells, mufflers, external spare tires, or truck beds. Regularly scan these areas.
- Check your packages: Even if someone doesn’t have access to your home, work, school, or vehicle, and you don’t receive mail at the address at which you live—you might use a P.O. box or another person’s address—someone can ship you an item with an AirTag in it, and when you take that home, they could have your location. If you’re in that specific situation, you may need to examine all packages received elsewhere before bringing them home.
What should you do if you discover you’re being tracked by an Apple AirTag?
Law enforcement experts say don’t go home—that could reveal where you live to whoever is stalking you. Instead, go to your local police department or a public space and call police from there—ask them to come out and to investigate.
If you do find the Apple AirTag while home, you should immediately call the police. And if you feel as if you are in immediate danger, exit your home and drive to a public place.
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