Apple AirTags To Reduce Car Thefts?

HAVE you ever thought of using your Apple AirTag to track your car? In case you did not know, devices in the Find My network that are in close proximity to AirTag can detect the secure Bluetooth signal it emits. These gadgets broadcast your AirTag’s position to iCloud, where you may view it on a map using the Find My app. For your privacy, the entire process is encrypted and anonymous.

In an innovative move to combat the rising issue of car thefts, Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington DC, USA, is offering residents Apple AirTags, which utilise Apple’s Find My technology to help track stolen vehicles. This program aims to empower residents in car theft-prone neighbourhoods and enhance recovery rates while promoting community involvement in safeguarding their vehicles.

The program, inspired by a similar initiative by New York City Mayor Eric Adams earlier this year, seeks to tackle the alarming surge in motor vehicle thefts, which has risen by 101% in Washington DC. As of November 1, the city recorded over 5,800 motor vehicle thefts, prompting officials to adopt these unique anti-theft measures.

Residents in high-risk areas are set to benefit from free Apple AirTags, distributed at three events, provided they can demonstrate residency within eligible police service areas. During these events, the city’s police force will assist residents in installing and registering the tags on their phones. Crucially, the location data from the AirTags will not be accessible to the police. Instead, in the event of a car theft, residents will need to share information from Find My with law enforcement.

While the program offers a promising approach to enhance the chances of solving car theft cases and apprehending repeat offenders, the acting police chief has not disclosed the exact number of AirTags that will be distributed. The effectiveness of this initiative will depend on widespread community participation and engagement.

It’s worth noting that the use of AirTags for tracking stolen vehicles has garnered mixed opinions among law enforcement teams in various US cities. For instance, authorities in San Antonio have advised against their use due to potential risks associated with confronting thieves at the location. While AirTags may not prevent car thefts entirely, their utilisation is seen as a valuable tool for law enforcement to recover stolen vehicles and bring culprits to justice.

Closer to home, back in March of this year, in order to combat car theft, University Tenaga Nasional (Uniten) has partnered with a private firm to create a QR code-based system.

By year’s end, the police will be using this new collaboratively designed technology, named ScanKod, in a test programme before it is made available to other law enforcement organisations.

To lower the amount of car thefts across the country, Uniten and Globe Resources Sdn Bhd inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) yesterday to build a mobile vehicle theft prevention system.

According to police figures, over 13,000 cars are reported stolen each year, resulting in insurance companies losing nearly RM1 billion due to theft claims.