Palm Beach Gardens woman shocked to find Apple AirTag inside SUV

Reddit, TikTok users report people tracking their vehicles
Posted at 12:06 PM, Jan 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-06 18:24:17-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Apple's AirTag product was released in April of last year as a way to effortlessly keep track of everyday items such as your keys.

The product, which costs $29, uses Bluetooth technology to emit a signal that can be detected by devices running Apple's Find My app feature.

However, since its release, people have reported a variety of privacy concerns related to the product.

In recent months, people have posted on TikTok and Reddit about finding AirTags on their vehicles and other personal belongings.

After stalking concerns were raised, Apple later updated AirTags to cause them to start making noises within a day of being away from their linked device. Previously it was three days.

Apple AirTag
Apple AirTags

Just before Christmas, a Palm Beach Gardens woman found an Apple AirTag hidden in the back of her SUV.

"I immediately had all the bad things in my head," said Alexis, who didn’t want to reveal her last name.

She said she was alerted to the device by her babysitter, who received a warning about the device over the Find My app.

"We couldn't find it anywhere inside the house, and we realized we were inside my vehicle together, so we went into the vehicle, played the sound, and we could hear faint beeping," Alexis said.

She said the AirTag was about the size of a quarter, hidden under a back panel and secured with Velcro.

Alexis, Palm Beach Gardens who said she should an Apple AirTag in her SUV
Alexis says she was shocked to find the AirTag in her vehicle.

Alexis suspects someone placed it there when she might have left her SUV unlocked.

"Anytime there is new technology, an opportunist, an offender, will find a way to make it worth their while to use," said Alex Piquero, a criminologist at the University of Miami.

It's possible, Piquero said, that car thieves are using the devices to track vehicles they may be targeting.

"It may not be the car, it's possible it's the goods in the car. Some people just don't lock their cars," Piquero said.

Alex Piquero, speaks about Apple AirTags, Jan. 6, 2022
Alex Piquero suspects thieves are using AirTags to target vehicles.

In a statement, Apple said they take customer safety very seriously.

"AirTag is designed with a set of proactive features to discourage unwanted tracking — a first in the industry — that both inform users if an unknown AirTag might be with them, and deter bad actors from using an AirTag for nefarious purposes," an Apple spokesman said in a written statement.

Piquero said it really comes down to people being aware of the new technology.

"These are things that we as people, need to be very mindful of," Piquero said.

A police department near Buffalo, New York, said in December they received two recent reports of Apple AirTag trackers placed in unsuspecting owner's vehicles.

Another flaw of the product that has sparked complaints is that AirTags aren't compatible with Android smartphones.

The Google-owned phones previously didn't have a way of detecting if AirTags might be used to track someone's whereabouts.

Following the criticism, Apple released an Android app in December called "Tracker Detect" on the Google Play Store. It allows Android users to scan for nearby AirTags that could be used for tracking purposes.