How an AirTag owner used it to find their stolen vehicle

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2021
An Apple AirTag owner who had their car stolen was able to locate and retrieve it despite the alleged thief finding and ditching the accessory.

Credit: Apple
Credit: Apple


Reddit user thinkscotty recounted the situation in a post on Thursday, explaining how an AirTag placed within the vehicle helped police find and track down the car.

"I am a night owl. I went out to get in my car around 3am earlier this week to find my car gone," the user wrote. "My car (a 2010 Subaru Forester) had been stolen."

The Redditor then called the police, filed a report, though said that officers weren't optimistic about the chances of retrieving the vehicle.

"I remembered then, after the dust settled, that I had put a spare AirTag in the sunglasses holder of my car. I'd bought a 4 pack and figured there might be an off chance it could potentially help me find the car. There's millions of iPhones in Chicagoland too, so I figured the chances of it getting pinged were decently high," thinkscotty wrote.

Once the AirTag was marked lost, thinkscotty received a notification that it had been found in a Chicago suburb about 10 minutes later. The user called the police and explained the situation. When officers arrived, they couldn't find the vehicle in the Walmart parking lot that the AirTag was located in.

Thickscotty searched for the AirTag, which was underneath a parked car -- obviously found and ditched by the alleged thieves. The user waited for a while and nearly gave up hope. Just before they left, however, they saw the stolen car turn back into the parking lot.

The Redditor quickly called the police, who arrived and detained the person who in the vehicle.

"It was just a crazy experience," wrote thinkscotty. "But about the AirTags.

They work to track down your car. I wouldn't have found mine without it. But I would have potentially found it faster if I'd hidden it better. So my advice: hide it well, but somewhere it will not be blocked from transmitting a Bluetooth signal."

This is not the first time that an AirTag has been used to find stolen or lost property. Earlier in 2021, a security expert was able to recover a swiped electric scooter using a pair of well-hidden AirTags

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    He should’ve not marked it as lost, I believe it sends an audible signal. I was able to track my bike from coast to coast when shipping, I nevertheless was able to locate it at all times.
    StrangeDaysdarkvaderwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 11
    So where do you hide it in a car where the Bluetooth signal will not be blocked?
    jasonfjwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 11
    maltzmaltz Posts: 358member
    So where do you hide it in a car where the Bluetooth signal will not be blocked?

    That depends a lot on the vehicle, but I'm not sure it matters a whole lot, as long as you don't put it in the engine compartment where there are very large blocks of metal (not to mention HEAT!)  My iPhone can see the AirTag in my Grand Cherokee in the garage from a room or two away.  That said, if you're in a car, searching for an AirTag inside another car, now you have TWO vehicle bodies to penetrate with the signal, so you're probably going to have to drive every lane to find it.  You might be better off searching visually once you've narrowed it down to a parking lot.  In any case, don't be too conspicuous about it - your phone isn't just leading you to your car, it's likely still occupied by a felon who will surely be very unhappy to see you if they suspect your intentions.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 11
    Was able to check on my car while at dealership including confirming car was inside locked up! 

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 11
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,408member
    This is the main reason I’m as planning on buying AirTags: discount auto GPS
    pulseimageswatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 11
    What are the odds of a 2010 Subaru Forrester being stolen? Did the owner leave the keys in the car?
    neilmfelix01watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 11
    XedXed Posts: 1,582member
    So where do you hide it in a car where the Bluetooth signal will not be blocked?
    I'd hide it in the cabin. Between the cloth or leather seats and glass, not to mention the likelihood of someone with an Apple device being in the cabin it seems likely to be able to report its existence to that device which will then use that device's location when it forwards the data. It seems easily enough to stuff down the side of a seat cushion.
    pulseimageswatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 11
    I’d hide it in the door panel. Any car driving by or person walking by will register. I was able to track my bike while it was in an enclosed trailer on a fast moving highway. I could see it on highways in the middle of nowhere. 
    pulseimageswatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 11
    maltzmaltz Posts: 358member
    I’d hide it in the door panel. Any car driving by or person walking by will register. I was able to track my bike while it was in an enclosed trailer on a fast moving highway. I could see it on highways in the middle of nowhere. 

    Keep in mind that you will have to access it every year or so to replace the battery.  So you have to balance the good hiding place with acceptable accessibility.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 11
    felix01felix01 Posts: 286member
    AirTags hidden in the trunk lids seem to work OK. I'm able to track the cars around town. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 11
    maltz said:
    I’d hide it in the door panel. Any car driving by or person walking by will register. I was able to track my bike while it was in an enclosed trailer on a fast moving highway. I could see it on highways in the middle of nowhere. 

    Keep in mind that you will have to access it every year or so to replace the battery.  So you have to balance the good hiding place with acceptable accessibility.
    True, but with a soldering iron, a rechargeable battery, and a resistor you never need to swap out the battery. 
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