NYC man learns the hard way to not track down thieves with an AirTag

NYC man learns the hard way to not track down thieves with an AirTag

By

Car thieves can hide an AirTag somewhere on your car and track it for theft later.
Don't use an AirTag to go vigilante. You're not Batman.
Photo: York Regional Police

A New York City man had his scooter stolen. But he’d put one of Apple’s AirTag item trackers on the bike, so he was able to track down the thieves … who beat the $%#@ out of him.

Stephen Herbert said he feels lucky he got out of the unfortunate encounter alive.

AirTag is for lost items, not stolen ones

Attach an AirTag to keys, backpack or a purse, and an iPhone can point right to it if it’s ever misplaced. Even better, Apple devices owned by other people can help find the lost item, too. Thanks to Apple’s Find My network, any iPhone, iPad or Mac can locate an AirTag and automatically and anonymously notify the owner of the location.

Apple’s description of the product makes it clear the intent is to help people find misplaced items. But some people put AirTags on items so they can track them down if they’re stolen. Herbert discovered how dangerous that can be.

His Honda Metropolitan was stolen, and he used an AirTag to track down the thieves, according to the Daily News.
He found the scooter, confronted the apparent thief, and called the police. The thief left, but came back with another man — and they both attacked Herbert.

“Next thing I know, I’m on the ground,” Herbert told the Daily News. “They might’ve both been hitting me and kicking me. I was just hoping they’d stop at that point, get up and leave, take my motorcycle. And they did. Stealer’s keepers.”

Herbert ended up with a severely broken nose that will require multiple surgeries to fix. And the thieves left with his Honda.

“I think a lot about, if he had a gun I could be dead,” Herbert said. “I think about how dumb I was to confront somebody and maybe had my life ruined in a lot more serious way.”

So many ways to use (or misuse) an AirTag and Find My network

AirTag and Apple’s Find My network work so well that people come up with interesting and sometimes nefarious ways to utilize the technology. Some creeps use the tiny trackers to stalk other people, although Apple deployed anti-stalking features in a firmware update that make that type of bad behavior more difficult to do.

And after Russian launched its war on Ukraine, some no-good soldiers stole citizens’ Apple products. Little did they know the aggrieved Ukrainians would track Russian troop movements using the Find My network.

Other people have used AirTags to locate their stolen property with better results than the NYC man who took a beating. For instance, a Texas woman put Apple’s tracker on her outdoor Christmas inflatables. The difference is that she didn’t confront the Grinches who swiped her blow-up decorations.

Instead, she found her stolen property and notified the police of the objects’ location. She got her decorations back without a trip to the emergency room.