Thief Drives Away in Car Stopped at Gas Station, Forgets to Check Out the Back Seat

Technology helps recover another stolen vehicle, but this time, it's not an AirTag that helped determine its location.
AirPads are part of the Find My network 6 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution/Apple
Apple AirTagApple AirTagApple AirTagApple AirTagApple AirTag
The story comes from Atlanta, where a thief drove away in a vehicle stopped at a Texaco gas station on Northside Drive SW.

Because he was in a rush, the thief didn't check the back seat and didn't even care about the technology left in the car, so he started the engine and drove away.

The car owner immediately called the police, telling them the vehicle was stolen and a kid was still inside. When arriving at the gas station, the police officer found out he could determine the vehicle's location using an iPad that was left in the car.

Apple's tablet uses the Find My network to broadcast its location to the owner over the Internet. The Find My application shows its location in real-time in case the device gets stolen, so the owner can track it, lock the access, and display a message on the screen.

The police officer determined the location of the vehicle, which was approximately 0.4 miles from the gas station, with the iPad indicating it was no longer moving. They rushed to the location and found the vehicle sitting in an open field, with the thief no longer inside. The officer broke the window and found the child unharmed and the iPad still in the cabin.

The thief probably spotted the child and decided to abandon the car without knowing the police were already on his tail using the iPad.

The police are still searching for the suspect, but given they have camera footage from the gas station, it shouldn't take too long until they find him.

Tracking tech has become mandatory for car owners, and many drivers turn to AirTags specifically because they're harder to spot. Apple's AirTag is also part of the Find My network, but compared to a traditional smartphone or tablet, it does not sport built-in Internet connectivity. AirTags connect to any nearby iPhone, using its Internet access to broadcast its location to the master device in the Find My application. AirTags are not rechargeable, using a CR2032 battery that can last for approximately six months.

However, as this case proves, any modern device can help recover a stolen car, be it a smartphone, a tablet, or a dedicated tracker. Anti-theft systems, which on Apple's device offer access to the Find My network, allow the owner to remotely connect to the gadget and retrieve its location. A thief can always throw a tablet or a smartphone out the window, though in this case, the child in the back seat probably played an integral role in convincing the thief to abandon the vehicle.
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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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