Renton detectives investigating cases of stalking with Apple AirTags

Jan 22, 2024, 5:46 PM


A key ring containing an AirTag attached to a rucksack inside an Apple Store. (Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

(Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

Detectives with the Renton Police Department are investigating two recent stalking cases involving Apple AirTags.

Now they’re warning the community to be on alert.

In both cases, someone illegally attached an AirTag to the victims’ cars, allegedly attempting to keep track of their movements.

“One case involves a domestic disturbance, where they were involved in a rollover. Two people were involved in a relationship, and the AirTag was attached to the vehicle, and it was discovered by the victim,” Renton Police spokesperson Meeghan Black said. “The other one was an employment situation where a company had attached an AirTag to a vehicle in order to track a former employee.”

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She said one of these cases is still under investigation, while the suspect in the other case had stalking charges referred to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (KCPAO).

The AirTag, which can be purchased for $29 or in a four-pack for $99, has become a popular item since its 2021 release, helping users pinpoint the locations of a wide variety of pieces of lost property. But security experts said there has also been a rise in the use of physical trackers for stalking. Two women sued Apple in 2022 in Northern California federal court after discovering their locations were being tracked following relationships, according to court documents. (A PDF of those documents can be viewed here.)

Tech tips to thwart unwanted tracking

Apple and Google have teamed up to thwart unwanted tracking through the Bluetooth devices.

For Apple, turning on location services or Find My iPhone will usually send an alert to a phone to notify the user there’s an AirTag moving with that person. It will also emit a sound, allowing users to find it more easily. Apple Support has provided detailed information on their site.

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Android users can download the Tracker Detect app. Samsung — which sells the most Android smartphones worldwide — and Google have also worked on combating secret surveillance from tracking products like the AirTag such as Tile, Chipolo and Pebblebee.

Those who find an unwanted AirTag, it can be fully disabled by removing the battery. This is done by twisting counterclockwise on the back of the tracker.

The Renton Police Department said anyone who finds an unwanted tracker should call local law enforcement immediately.

You can read more of Kate Stone’s stories here. Follow Kate on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email her here.

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Renton detectives investigating cases of stalking with Apple AirTags