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Are you being tracked? New York police warn of hidden Apple AirTags

Posted at 12:45 PM, Dec 22, 2021

WEST SENECA, NY — Apple AirTags are small, quarter-like plastic and metal silver disks designed by Apple to attach to items so you can track them when they go missing. But within the past month, two women have gone to the West Seneca Police Department after a message appeared on their phones saying an unknown accessory has been detected near them, and could see their location.


"It was moving with them. So typically that means it was in their vehicle, on their vehicle or maybe in their purse or something," West Seneca Police Lieutenant Jonathan Luterek said.

Michael McCartney, a cyber security expert who is a veteran member of the law enforcement community, said the chances of finding a tracking device like an Apple AirTag are slim.

"You can hide a quarter about anywhere on your car. It can connect to your smart vehicle. Most vehicles have built in WiFi and built in Bluetooth… The battery life lasts for almost a year or more," McCartney, the National Director of Cyber Security at Avalon, said.

West Seneca Police said they were able to find one of the AirTags.

"It was placed underneath the bumper, kind of inside the lip. You’d really have to look for it pretty hard to find. It’s not something you could conveniently check for," Luterek said.

Police said they hope to receive records from Apple to determine who the AirTag belongs to, then they could face criminal charges.

"They could be charged with stalking. That kind of evolved from Jackie’s Law, who was a resident of resident and who was a victim of domestic violence. It’s good that we have that law in place now because before there was really nothing we could charge them with for doing this," Luterek said.

But police could not locate the tracker on the other vehicle.

"It’s obviously concerning. You think, are they being stalked? Is someone just trying to steal their car?" Luterek said.

Police and McCarthy said to contact police immediately if you get a notification that a tracking device is with you.

McCarthy said if you and/or police can't locate it through a visual inspection, try downloading a Bluetooth scanning tool on your smart phone.

"There are Bluetooth scanning tools you can download to your phone. Kind of like on your phone when it tells you all the Wifi hotspots that are near you you could theoretically connect to, it’s the same kind of thing. This kind of Bluetooth scanner could allow you to say hey there’s a Bluetooth device in here," McCarthy said.

McCarthy said you should contact Apple as well. According to Apple, after a while, the AirTag will start playing a sound. McCarthy said you can also take one additional step to attempt to block the tracker from working.

"Disable Bluetooth on your phone and on your car whenever you’re driving it because that seems to be the communication method preferred," McCarthy said.