Two AirTags used by security expert to track down stolen e-scooter

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 10
A cybersecurity CEO was able to recover a stolen scooter a week after it was swiped using a pair of Apple AirTag tracking accessories and the company's Find My app.

Credit: Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider
Credit: Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider


Dan Guido, founder of cybersecurity firm Trail of Bits, detailed the account of how he used two cleverly hidden AirTags to get his scooter back. The scooter was stolen on a Monday because Guido had forgot to lock it down properly. However, he had placed two AirTag devices in hidden locations in the scooter: a "decoy" in the wheel well and a second inside the stem.

No fear! The most important part of IR is preparation, and I hid two Airtags inside the scooter: one "decoy" in the wheel well and a second, more subtle, one inside the stem. Covered in black duct tape, they're hard to see. pic.twitter.com/AYwQz1teYg

-- Dan Guido (@dguido)


Guido went to find his scooter the next day, and attempted to enlist the help of the police, who were initially hesitant because they didn't know about AirTags. After looking for a while, Guido gave up the search because he had to catch a flight.

At that point, the Trail of Bits founder thought he might not see his scooter again because Apple's anti-stalking features would kick in, alerting the thief to the presence of the two AirTag tracking accessories.

After returning from his trip a week later, however, Guido had found that the scooter didn't move. He again convinced local police officers to come with him, demonstrating how AirTags work to show that he wasn't up to anything nefarious.

I was patient, upbeat, and demonstrated with the Airtags on my keys. I reiterated I didn't want them to do anything illegal to help me, made a joke about it only costing $800 so it's no felony, and insisted it would get solved within an hour. It worked!

-- Dan Guido (@dguido)


Guido and the officers arrived at the location where the scooter was supposed to be. This time around, he noticed that the location was next to an e-bike store. As soon as he walked in, he received an Ultra Wideband ping. Store employees didn't initially believe that the scooter was his, though Guido noted that the store was unkempt and not a single e-bike was new.

At this point, one mechanic started making excuses for the current state of it: the woman who brought it in had complained about the brakes, so he cut the power line to the handlebars and then removed them. This is not how to repair brakes: pic.twitter.com/WZhsUTSp6Q

-- Dan Guido (@dguido)


While the police officers started questioning the employees, the cybersecurity CEO told them to get CCTV footage from when the scooter might have been sold by the thief. According to Guido, some store employees began to harass him.

After retrieving the scooter, Guido filled out a report at the police precinct. He added that the officers got "a parade of high fives from their peers," since nobody can remember when they last solved an e-bike crime. Additionally, the manufacturer of the scooter agreed to fix or replace the damaged scooter.

For others looking to use AirTags as an anti-theft, rather than anti-loss, feature, Guido provided a few tips.

3) Act quickly, before the anti-stalking feature kicks in. Damage done to my handlebars was likely in response to the regular noises from the Airtag.
4) Limit your in-person interactions and always involve the police. Don't try to retrieve your stolen goods until you have backup.

-- Dan Guido (@dguido)


This isn't the first time that Apple's AirTags have been used to locate missing or stolen items. Back in July, a tech enthusiast said he used the tracking accessories to find his missing wallet hours after losing it on the New York City subway.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    Airtag adhesive? 
  • Reply 2 of 10
    p-dogp-dog Posts: 105member
    I removed the speaker from the AirTag I hid on my bicycle, but I never thought about using a second, decoy AirTag. I’ll order another one right away!
    williamlondonlibertyforallwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 10
    XedXed Posts: 1,113member
    p-dog said:
    I removed the speaker from the AirTag I hid on my bicycle, but I never thought about using a second, decoy AirTag. I’ll order another one right away!
    I like the decoy AirTag idea. If you have something valuable to protect then $20 isn't a big deal. Costco sells 4 packs at the best price I've seen. You can't get engraving but I don't care about 4 characters on something hidden away.
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 10
    The scooter was stolen on a Monday because Guido had forgot to lock it down properly.
    Well ok, but the cause of the crime is always on the perpetrator of the crime, not the victim. Should’ve locked it down of course, but it was stolen because someone committed theft. LAW AND ORDER!

    Cool story on AirTags though!
    edited August 10 ArianneFeldrywatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 10
    p-dog said:
    I removed the speaker from the AirTag I hid on my bicycle
    why?
    williamlondon
  • Reply 6 of 10
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,062member
    Eric_WVGG said:
    p-dog said:
    I removed the speaker from the AirTag I hid on my bicycle
    why?
    So the beeping wouldn't alert a thief that the item was 'bugged'.
    williamlondonwatto_cobradocno42
  • Reply 7 of 10
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,062member
    A quick and easy way to prove an item in question is yours is to hide a slip of paper or similar in a down tube or other hidden location with your driver's license number on it. That may be quicker than getting some documentation (receipt) with a serial number (if the item has one) and your name on it.

    That whole shop operation sounds like the shop employees might be stealing bikes and scooters and reselling them. I'd really like a lot more detail to this story.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 10
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,517member
    The article title may give the impression that only an expert can use AirTags to retrieve lost items. 
    ozymandiwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 10
    True. The story seems only partially finished. I want to see that bike shop go down.

    “Bike Index” is the place to register your bicycle, every bike you have, with photos and serial numbers, etc. It’s easy, bicycles are recovered every day. Check put and support this kick-ass nonprofit at: 

    https://bikeindex.org/


    macgui said:
    A quick and easy way to prove an item in question is yours is to hide a slip of paper or similar in a down tube or other hidden location with your driver's license number on it. That may be quicker than getting some documentation (receipt) with a serial number (if the item has one) and your name on it.

    That whole shop operation sounds like the shop employees might be stealing bikes and scooters and reselling them. I'd really like a lot more detail to this story.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 10
    the Twitter thread is worth reading... the cops were next to useless, ignorant of Airtags and had to be wheedled and cajoled into doing anything about it. The victim did almost all the work for them. They also ignored a death threat made against the victim and directly in front of a cop by one of the shop employees.

    #ACAB
    edited August 11 watto_cobra
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