Car Care

Thieves are using Apple AirTags to steal cars. Here’s how to stop them.

Will Kerr's profile picture
Will Kerr

Tracking devices can be a handy way of making your stuff easier to find. Unfortunately, they have some more sinister uses too. Here, we explain how you can stop thieves from using AirTags to steal your car. 

What are AirTags?

AirTags and other similar products are basically small, magnetic tracking devices. You can stick them to things (like your bunch of keys) and then use an app to locate them. Kind of like our Find My Car feature (which has a good track record of foiling thieves). 

Similar products include Samsung Galaxy Smart Tags, the Tile Pro, Chipolo One and Cube Shadow. 

How are criminals using AirTags to steal cars?

When criminals see a car they like the look of, they’ll hide the tracking device on it. That way they can find out where it’s kept, so they can drop by and try to take it later (usually at night). 

The thieves using AirTags to steal cars are usually part of organised gangs with some quite sophisticated tricks up their sleeves. This includes reprogramming cars to accept different keys. Basically, not the sort of people you want rocking up to your driveway. 

How do I check for AirTags on my car?

If you have an iPhone, it should alert you to the presence of any AirTags that appear to be on or around you, but aren’t registered to you. Given the number of notifications our phones throw at us, they can be easy to ignore – but this is something you should pay attention to. 

The notification will give you the option to ‘Play Sound’. Selecting this will make the tracker beep, which should help you find it. 

If you don’t have an iPhone, you can download Apple’s Tracker Detect app. This will scan your surroundings for AirTags and other trackers. 

AirTags are designed so that they should automatically start beeping after 24 hours of being separated from their owner. The idea being that this stops them being used to snoop and spy. Unfortunately, 24 hours is probably all thieves need to figure out where you park your car. 

What do I do if I find an AirTag on my car?

Call the police. It may just help them catch the people responsible. If you hold your iPhone up to the white side, you should see a notification that will tell you who the tracker belongs to – and give you the option to disable it. Alternatively, you can get old school and take it down by twisting the back and taking out the battery. (It might be an idea to pop on gloves, just in case the police are able to get prints from it). 

Unfortunately, there is a chance that thieves may have already been able to figure out where your car is parked at night. So it makes sense to invest in some extra deterrents. Steering wheel locks are a great way to put thieves off – partly because they’re so visible. Some other security upgrades to consider would include an immobiliser if you don’t have one, or a tracking device you can use find your car if it’s taken. (If you’re with us, your Miles Tracker will do the job). 

Having a camera recording your car from a visible spot is one way to put off thieves.

Making sure your parking space is lit up, on camera or somehow inaccessible will all help put off thieves. 

You can find more crime prevention tips in our guide to catalytic converter theft

Seeing as you’ve taken the time to read this, you’re probably a safety-conscious sort of driver. If you’re also doing under 7,000 miles a year (as most people are) you could find pay-by-mile insurance is a great way to save. Why not get a quote and see?