Car Owner Finds Stolen Kia Optima Using an AirTag, Learns a Very Important Lesson

Car owners shouldn't try to recover their vehicles on their own 6 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution/Apple
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Apple's AirTag is an excellent technology if you use it correctly. The iPhone maker designed it to help customers keep track of their belongings, including wallets, car keys, and even pets.
The small form factor allows an AirTag to double as a tracking device for cars, too, as it communicates with nearby iPhones and transmits its location to the owner. Many people bought an AirTag specifically to install it into their vehicles in case they get stolen.

A woman from Aurora, Colorado, used an AirTag to determine the location of her 2020 Kia Optima. Thieves drove away in the car last weekend, but the owner rapidly determined its location using Apple's device.

For some reason, she believed confronting the thieves would convince them to return the car to her. Instead, when she approached the vehicle, the criminals shot her in the hand, so the woman ended up in hospital for treatment.

The police rushed to the scene and tried to stop the thieves. They drove away, leading to a Hollywood-style chase that involved an APD Chevrolet Tahoe cruiser crashing into another vehicle. The suspects abandoned the car at East 2nd Avenue and Peoria.

Police warned several times that AirTags could help locate a stolen car, but the owner shouldn't try to approach the vehicle by any means.

When their vehicle goes missing, a car owner must report the incident to the police. The officers will then try to locate the car using the information provided by the AirTag – this typically takes just a few hours, as the faster the police find the vehicle, the bigger the chances of recovering it. Contacting law enforcement as soon as possible after you notice the car is missing is vital, as thieves wouldn't have enough time to get too far.

The more time passes since the car got stolen, the bigger the chances for the thieves to spot the AirTag. By design, the device sends warnings to nearby iPhones to prevent stalking attempts. Thieves could receive notifications that an AirTag is traveling with them, and without the police on their tails, they might have enough time to search the vehicle and remove the tracker. Police recommend people contact law enforcement immediately after discovering that their car or any other belonging is missing and then sharing vital information, such as AirTag coordinates.

Android devices don't currently sport an automatic AirTag detection method, so Google users must manually search for nearby trackers with a dedicated application published on the Google Play Store. The next Android operating system version will include automatic detection, especially as the number of trackers grows. It's projected to launch in the summer, with the rollout to compatible devices to continue in early 2024.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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