Thief Finds Unsecured E-Bike in Front of Walmart, AirTag Helps Recover the Stolen Wheels

A stolen e-bike was recovered in a matter of hours after the thief ran away with the vehicle, all thanks to an AirTag.
The bike was recovered in a matter of hours 6 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution/Southwest Sheriff's Station
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The incident happened in Temecula, where a teenager parked her e-bike in front of a Walmart store without securing the vehicle. A thief spotted the e-bike and walked away with it without thinking that the owner may have placed a tracking device on it.

Fortunately for the young e-bike enthusiast, the vehicle was equipped with an AirTag, so the owner could locate it in real-time. The Southwest Sheriff's Station says in a Facebook post that the bike's owner contacted the police, so the CORE (Community Outreach Resources and Engagement) team rapidly started the search for the vehicle.

It didn't take long until the deputies located the e-bike, based on information from the AirTag, at a home on Wildwood Court. However, they couldn't just break into the house, as they needed a warrant. A few hours later, they received the go-ahead.

The AirTag was right. They found the e-bike and two suspects, one believed to be the individual who ran away with the vehicle from the Walmart store. As a bonus, the police officers also discovered several illegal substances, so the two suspects were taken into custody. They were released on a $5,000 bond but are set to appear in court on October 11.

AirTags have become must-have devices for vehicle owners, but the rapid police response makes a huge difference in every case. Owners should contact law enforcement as fast as possible, as the sooner the police begin the investigation, the bigger the chances to recover the stolen goods. Police also recommend AirTag owners report the theft when they notice the vehicle missing.

The reason is as simple as it could be: AirTags are fitted with anti-stalking protections, generating notifications to nearby smartphones to warn of its presence. A thief carrying an iPhone could receive a notification, knowing that an AirTag is moving with them, so their location is tracked. Without the police on their tail, thieves have enough time to search for and eventually find the AirTag. Disabling the device is easy, as most thieves throw it outside the window or remove the battery.

AirTags connect to the Find My network, using nearby iPhones to communicate its location to the master device. It doesn't come with built-in Internet access but uses smartphones in its proximity to broadcast coordinates. Thanks to its small form factor, the AirTag can be planted virtually anywhere, including on bikes and e-bikes, where it's nearly impossible to detect.

If you're looking for a good place to hide an AirTag in your car, my tutorial here includes several spots where a thief would have a hard time looking for the tracker.

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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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