A Tracking Device Made by Apple Is Showing Up in Suspected Crimes

AirTags, not the first tracking tool to become the source of concern about their use for nefarious purposes, have been linked to stalking and car thefts

a key ring containing an AirTag
James D. Morgan/Getty Images

A growing body of evidence suggests that people are using Apple’s new homing beacon to try to stalk others and steal cars, according to law enforcement officials, local news reports, personal anecdotes posted on social media and experts in domestic violence and computer security. 

Police in Colorado, Georgia, Michigan and Texas have reported the misuse of AirTags, including for domestic stalking and trying to steal cars. The sheriff’s office in Twin Falls, Idaho, warned residents this month that AirTags pose a danger, especially to potential victims of domestic violence. And one reported attempt at unwanted tracking described on TikTok has received more than 27 million views.

“I don’t think there’s any question that Apple’s AirTags are being used for stalking,” said Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital privacy group based in San Francisco. She was among the people predicting just such an outcome months ago. 

AirTags have a legitimate use that consumers may well embrace, but their misuse means they also fit in with an expanding market for surveillance technology. And while homing beacons made by other companies have been around for years, Apple’s product is especially powerful because it uses the company’s network of more than 1 billion devices and its cloud computing service to frequently update their location. 

An Apple representative did not dispute that some people were misusing AirTags to track others. He declined, though, to say how many times local law enforcement had contacted the company for information on an AirTag’s owner. 

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The company released the emergency software patch to counter a security vulnerability that could allow hackers to access iPhone and other Apple devices without any actions from the user.
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