California man uses AirTag to confront thief who stole his BMW

Posted:
in iOS

A man in California was able to use an Apple AirTag and dash cam footage to recover his stolen BMW, though we don't advise following his method.

Car key, Apple AirTag in leather holder, and iPhone displaying location app on white background.
Apple AirTag



Philip Obando awoke one morning to find that his BMW was missing. Fortunately for Obando, he had previously hidden an Apple AirTag inside his car in case something like this happened.

Using the Find My app, Obando was able to track the thief as he drove through long beach. The thief slept in the car, swapped out the license plate, and even took it through a car wash.



That's when Obando and his wife decided to track the thief directly, something that police, Apple, and AppleInsider advise against.

Obando told NBC News that he confronted the thief at a local gas station, proving that he owned the car by using a spare key fob to sound the horn. The thief then took off running.

This case is a stark reminder of the risks involved in using GPS tracking devices like AirTags to monitor items such as cars. While the outcome was favorable in this instance, it could have easily escalated into a dangerous situation for all parties.

Recently, a man in Leeds, England, teamed up with police to retrieve his Nissan Pathfinder using an AirTag to track it.

It's important to note the varying stances of law enforcement agencies on the use of AirTags for vehicle tracking. While D.C. and New York City police actively promote their use to deter vehicle theft, San Antonio police have issued a cautionary stance.

It's not just car owners who are using AirTags to track cars, either. Canada's complex car theft ring, which often involves stealing and shipping expensive cars and SUVs around the world, has begun implementing the quarter-sized tracker to mark potential victims.



Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    wonkothesanewonkothesane Posts: 1,729member
    As much as it would tickle me in such a situation to do the same, you can never overestimate stupidity and/or aggression of random people - in particular those who steal your car.  
    dewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 14
    AI may not advocate it, but I certainly do.

    You want your car back, you're going to have to go get it yourself.  Expecting cops to do anything to help you is foolish.
    beowulfschmidtkingofsomewherehot
  • Reply 3 of 14
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 1,266member
    AI may not advocate it, but I certainly do.

    You want your car back, you're going to have to go get it yourself.  Expecting cops to do anything to help you is foolish.
    Why should the cops do anything when the person would just be released immediately with no bail? It’s just a waste of their time. 
    watto_cobrakillroy
  • Reply 4 of 14
    He confronted him in a public place so that decreases the odds of it escalating too high.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 14
    retrogustoretrogusto Posts: 1,118member
    If you have the patience, a safer plan is to wait until the thief parks it somewhere (unenclosed), then hop in and drive it away. 
    watto_cobrakillroy
  • Reply 6 of 14
    Sooooo, how exactly was this ‘thief’ able to steal the car without a key?  BMWs have either had custom keys replaceable only by dealers or the new-ish key fobs w remote or electronic starts.  

    LONG gone are the days of hot wiring the cars.  

    Or did the ‘tracker’ lose track of his key?  
    Something doesn’t seem quite heroic as much as foolhardy followed by CYA for “I left my car fob on the table at Starbucks and forgot it when I left…”
    watto_cobrakillroy
  • Reply 7 of 14
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,100member
    The article says the thief was a neighbor, and that they also planned on going back to the victim's house and steal the wife's car too.

    If the police did their job, victims wouldn't have to be the ones to approach the thieves.
    watto_cobrakillroy
  • Reply 8 of 14
    chelinchelin Posts: 110member
    He confronted him in a public place so that decreases the odds of it escalating too high.
    Haven’t been to SoCal I hear…
    9secondkox2watto_cobrakillroy
  • Reply 9 of 14
    chelinchelin Posts: 110member
    Sooooo, how exactly was this ‘thief’ able to steal the car without a key?  BMWs have either had custom keys replaceable only by dealers or the new-ish key fobs w remote or electronic starts.  

    LONG gone are the days of hot wiring the cars.  

    Or did the ‘tracker’ lose track of his key?  
    Something doesn’t seem quite heroic as much as foolhardy followed by CYA for “I left my car fob on the table at Starbucks and forgot it when I left…”
    Happened to us. But the thieves broke into our house first and got the keys from the kitchen counter. 

    However we were saved by OnStar, they have a special program for LEOs to receive updates on the vehicle’s location, heading and speed. I would assume that BMW have a similar system. AirTags is more for finding an item under a cushion.
    dewmeirwinmauricekillroy
  • Reply 10 of 14
    9secondkox29secondkox2 Posts: 2,797member
    They warn about the criminals having guns, but try to take ours away so that the criminals h ave the upper hand…

    if someone steals your stuff, squats in your house, etc. you should be able to take it right back, boot the trespassers, etc. 

    airtags help enable people to do something about criminal activity directly affecting them. 
    watto_cobrakillroy
  • Reply 11 of 14
    It will be more dangerous for the thief than for me:)
    beowulfschmidtwatto_cobrakingofsomewherehotkillroy
  • Reply 12 of 14
    wonkothesanewonkothesane Posts: 1,729member
    Sooooo, how exactly was this ‘thief’ able to steal the car without a key?  BMWs have either had custom keys replaceable only by dealers or the new-ish key fobs w remote or electronic starts.  

    LONG gone are the days of hot wiring the cars.  

    Or did the ‘tracker’ lose track of his key?  
    Something doesn’t seem quite heroic as much as foolhardy followed by CYA for “I left my car fob on the table at Starbucks and forgot it when I left…”
    https://strathmorenow.com/articles/beware-of-this-new-method-criminals-are-using-to-steal-cars-in-seconds#

    https://eu.freep.com/story/money/cars/2023/12/30/stop-car-hacking-by-keeping-your-key-fob-in-a-metal-coffee-can/72048564007/#:~:text=The%20single%20most%20important%20tip,communicating%20with%20hackers%2C%20Shlisel%20said.

    For example, like this. 
  • Reply 13 of 14
    sandorsandor Posts: 659member
    He confronted him in a public place so that decreases the odds of it escalating too high.
    In the United States that is a false assumption.
    killroy
  • Reply 14 of 14
    What we need is a way to remotely activate something in the car — like an ejection seat, smoke coming out of the vents, etc.  Maybe a voice comes of the speakers and talks to the thief —‘“I know where you’re going, and don’t bother trying to get out of the car, because I’ve locked you in!”
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