A woman in an East Coast city left a bar, drove away and soon began receiving alerts on her phone.
“AirTag Found Moving With You,” a notification on her iPhone said. “The location of this AirTag can be seen by the owner.”
Alarmed that someone could be following her, she began checking her purse, coat pockets and wallet in search of an AirTag, a tracking device made by Apple that went on sale this year. But she couldn’t find anything.
“I didn’t want to go home, so I spent the night somewhere and just said I’d figure it out in the morning,” she wrote later on her Twitter account, which she has since made private.
The next day, she had someone check her car, and they found an AirTag attached inside a wheel well.
Suspects someone was trying to steal her car because she wasn’t parked close enough to the bar for someone to associate her with the vehicle. She said she reported the incident to law enforcement but didn’t know if they would investigate. Her friend threw away the tracker, she said.
The news echoes a growing number of claims about Apple’s new homing beacon. Evidence is accumulating that people are using AirTags to try to stalk others and steal cars, according to law enforcement officials, local news reports, personal anecdotes posted on social media and experts in domestic violence and computer security.
Police in Colorado, Georgia, Michigan and Texas have reported the misuse of AirTags.
Apple markets AirTags as a way to find personal items such as keys, wallets or backpacks, whether they’re lost at home or far away, like the beach. The tags sell for $29 each on Apple’s website, or four for $99.
An app named “Find My” on iPhones tracks how far away the tags are and displays a map with their locations.
But the AirTags connect with more than the owner’s iPhone. Using Bluetooth technology, an AirTag sends a signal that any nearby iPhone, iPad or Mac can detect. Those devices can then send the location of an AirTag to Apple’s cloud computing network and on to the owner.
Apple says that only the owner of an AirTag can see where it is, and that the device itself doesn’t store location data or history.