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Security & privacy

Criminals are using AirTags to steal cars – These are the most targeted ones in the US

Who enjoys losing their stuff? Nobody. Retracing your steps doesn’t always work and can lead to even more frustration. Fortunately, tech has come a long way to help us solve our simplest problems.

If you own an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or Mac, you can imagine the pain of misplacing them. Apple knows this and released a Notify When Left Behind feature to help find lost devices. A recent update added the functionality to AirPods Pro, which is more likely to get misplaced due to its size. Tap or click here to check out how it works.

GPS trackers help find just about anything. Attach them to keys, laptop bags, luggage, purses and more, and if you lost the item, you could track it from your smart device. But now, Apple’s AirTags are helping criminals steal vehicles. Read on to find out how they’re doing it and get ways to protect your car.

Here’s the backstory

AirTags are great for finding lost or stolen items, but they can be used against you by the bad actors you are trying to catch with your stuff. The York Regional Police of Ontario reports that thieves are using tracking devices to track and steal high-end vehicles.

The report states that officers have investigated five such incidents since September this year. Here’s how it’s happening:

The devices are placed on cars in a way that you won’t see them. Thieves attach the devices while the vehicle is parked in public and later track it to the victim’s home where they can steal the car. They don’t even need to enter the vehicle to place the tracker.

In the image below, the tracker was placed on the trailer connector of a truck:

York Regional Police

Later, crooks break into the vehicles and connect a different device to the onboard diagnostics (OBD) port. This programs the car to accept a key the thieves brought with them. They then start the car and drive away.

How to protect yourself

Thankfully, Apple implemented a feature that alerts you if someone else’s AirTag moves with you. If your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch is running iOS or iPadOS 14.5 or later, it will notify you with an “AirTag Found Moving With You” message.

Here’s what to do in this case:

  • Tap the message, then tap Continue.
  • If you can’t find the AirTag, tap Play Sound for help.
  • If the AirTag is attached to something you borrowed or you don’t need to worry about its presence, you can tap Pause Safety Alerts to turn off the AirTag Detected notifications for one hour.
  • If you don’t know where the AirTag came from, tap Learn About This AirTag to see its serial number and whether or not it’s marked as lost. Be careful, as crooks are using “lost” AirTags to hack people’s Apple accounts.
  • If you find the AirTag on your vehicle or other property, you can tap Instructions to Disable AirTag and follow the onscreen steps to stop sharing your location. If you feel your safety is at risk, call the police.

Did your car make the list?

Some vehicles are more tempting to thieves than others. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) recently put out its annual “Hot Wheels” report, which shows the top 10 most stolen vehicles in the U.S. in 2020. Here’s the list:

  1. Ford full-size pickup
  2. Chevrolet full-size pickup
  3. Honda Civic
  4. Honda Accord
  5. Toyota Camry
  6. Nissan Altima
  7. GMC full-size pickup
  8. Toyota Corolla
  9. Honda CR-V
  10. Dodge full-size pickup

If you own a vehicle on the list, be aware that it’s in high demand from car thieves. Don’t forget to share this article with friends and family so they can keep their vehicles protected.

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