Apple AirTags become useful tool for Canadian carjackers

Local police reported thieves placing an AirTag on a vehicle, tracking it and then stealing it from the owner's home.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
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This little device can cause a lot of headaches, in reality.

Sarah Tew/CNET

When Apple's new AirTag came out, there was plenty of discussion about its ability to track cars, in case one does go missing. At $29, it seemed like a positive. However, it appears thieves quickly reversed such thinking for their own benefit. In a blog post last week, York Regional Police in Ontario, Canada said carjackers now use the little devices to track "high-end vehicles across the region."

Thieves spot their target vehicle in a public place, such as a shopping center or parking lot, and attach an AirTag where the owner likely won't find it. With the AirTag planted, all that's left is to wait and track the car to the owner's home. From there, thieves can quietly commit grand theft auto with a slew of tools at their disposal. The AirTag just makes finding the car a lot easier.

These days, carjackers don't need much to fool a car into thinking the owner has the keys. After breaking in, a digital tool plugged into the OBD 2 port can clone a blank key to start the car, and the thief can make off with the vehicle without too much trouble, unless a car alarm goes off.

The use of AirTags by thieves comes with a new set of warnings to drivers. Be sure to check inconspicuous areas of a vehicle's exterior for the tracker, including flaps and ports. Owners can also purchase locks to keep would-be thieves out of a car's computer port to create "new" keys.

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