In an effort to combat the ever-increasing number of car thefts in New York, Mayor Eric Adams has announced that the city will be distributing 500 free Apple AirTags to its residents. These GPS tracking devices, which retail at $29, are designed to help people locate their belongings if they go missing. However, Mayor Adams believes that they could be used to catch car thieves in the act.
Adams praised the AirTag as a “really amazing piece of ingenuity” and said that the city would give many of them away in the Bronx, which has been particularly hard hit by auto theft. “The aggravated number of grand larceny autos continues to drive up crime in our city,” he said at a press conference. “This simple device, this simple AirTag, hidden in a car location that a person is not aware of, is an excellent tracking device.”
The Association for Better New York, a local nonprofit, has donated the 500 AirTags to the city, and the police will give them to residents. The city will also be fundraising to buy more. This move follows the recent surge of car thefts in the city, particularly of Hyundai and Kia vehicles, which have skyrocketed following a TikTok trend. In December 2023 alone, the New York Police Department received reports of 104 Hyundais and 99 Kias stolen, according to data reported by The New York Post.
While the AirTag provides an innovative solution to the problem of auto theft, it has raised concerns about unauthorized tracking. In June 2022, an Indiana woman tracked her boyfriend, whom she suspected of cheating on her, using the tracking device and then killed him. This incident has raised questions about the potential misuse of AirTags and the need for safeguards against such abuses.
Apple has since released a statement, saying that the AirTag was designed to help people locate their personal belongings, not to track people or another person’s property. The company condemned in the strongest possible terms any malicious use of its products and assured users that incidents of AirTag misuse are rare.
Despite these concerns, Mayor Adams has expressed optimism that the AirTag will be an effective tool in combating car theft in the city. And with the distribution of free AirTags to its residents, New York is sending a clear message that it is committed to fighting crime and keeping its citizens safe.