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Apple recently released the AirTag, a small Bluetooth chip that can be strapped to your keys and connected to your iPhone in case you lose them. But the chipper marketing of this little device fails to mention how you could use it to prevent car theft. After all, it’s a tracking device, stuff it in your vehicle and you’ll always know where it is. However, just because you should use your Apple AirTag (or any Bluetooth tracking device) in your car doesn’t mean you should.

Apple AirTag Bluetooth tracking device
Apple AirTag Bluetooth tracking device | James D. Morgan/Getty Images

How you can use the Apple AirTag to prevent theft

If you go down the Apple AirTag route, all you need is a phone compatible with it. And don’t worry, unless you have a phone older than the first generation iPhone SE (which is what I have), you’re iPhone is just fine. Simply connect your phone to your tag and slide it in your car.

From there, the Apple AirTag uses the same technology Find My iPhone does. It’s not a GPS tracker. Instead, it sends signals to other nearby iPhones to try and figure out where it is, and sends you an approximate location. Because of this, the tech works better in populated areas rather than remote regions.

It seems like a no-brainer to slide one of these tiny objects in your car. But just because you can put justice in your own hands doesn’t mean you should.

The risks associated with having a tracker in your car

Woman in handcuffs in front of car
Woman in handcuffs in front of car | Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

This tracking technology gives you the ability to become a vigilante, and take matters into your own hands if something ever gets stolen. However, a report from The Washington Post explains why that’s a remarkably bad idea. No matter how angry you are that your car’s been stolen, police advise you should never go after it yourself. Contact the authorities before making any moves.

The reasoning for this is simple: you have no idea who’s in the car. This can go one of two ways. For starters, they could be armed and dangerous, and putting your life on the line isn’t worth it. But on the other hand, the person in your car may not have been the person who stole it. After all, these thieves love to sell what they find to unsuspecting car buyers.

Let the police track down your car, and go with them to the scene. But stay far away as in case they apprehend the suspect. However, while this technology can be used responsibly for tracking down personal belongings and preventing car theft, Apple has recently been in hot water over how easy it is to track people.

The controversial nature of Apple’s Bluetooth tracker device in general

Apple logo
Apple logo | Andrej Sokolow/picture alliance via Getty Images

Apple has released a few updates to make it harder for someone to track a person. One of these solutions was to have the AirTag make a 15-second noise after a few days of being separated from the owner. Another is to have the tag display pop-up notifications to let those around the AirTag know they’re being tracked. But reviewers who’ve tested the product say the anti-tracking precautions haven’t worked.

Sometimes the noise doesn’t go off for days, allowing people to watch their target’s every move in secret. This is great if you’re watching your car, and incredibly illegal if you’re watching a person. But if a thief suddenly hears that beeping, or sees the push notification that they’re being tracked, things could get even worse. They’ll want to ditch the car ASAP, and if they can’t find the tracker, I’d reckon they’d either abandon it or junk it.

That said, I’ll be taking the dive into the world of owning an Apple AirTag for my car so you don’t have to. Consider it an unofficial product review on how to prevent car theft. After all, the tag is only $29, a fairly low price to pay (especially for an Apple product). At the end of the day, you need to know the risks and implications of owning one of these trackers to know if owning one is right, or safe, for you to do.


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