Is the new Apple Air Tag the best theft tracking device? (1 Viewer)

EscapeWagon62

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If I’m reading everything correctly the airtag needs to connect to some nearby iPhone in relatively close range, correct?

So if no iPhone nearby and/or no cell service it wouldn’t work. Not a deal breaker, just want to make sure I understand the limitations in simple terms.
Correct. Even a walk by can trigger it and you can look at it in find my iphone.
You can mark it stolen/missing and anyone walking by can get a notification and call you (doubt I’d use that for this purpose)
I figure its like one of those murder/csi shows. If I can locate it in the first 24 hours it has a better chance of living.
If I still lived in Texas the murder would occur once I tracked it down. While I havent researched it completely, I don’t think I can legally shoot thieves in Massachusetts.
 

WoodnotRust

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The comments above are great. Compared to the subscription/hardwired GPS units (minimum $240/yr not including the device) the AirTag beats them hands-down on price, but not in terms of function. I really like the Pet tag too which seems like it might be a middle ground.

I too thought that the first 24 hours was critical...and that might still be the case even though the average recovery time nationwide is 11 days. I'm thinking that under most scenarios you'll know right away if your car was stolen with your Air Tag inside. Let's say you cycled 20 miles to the office and left the truck in the driveway. If the car is moved from its "home location", you should get a notice within minutes or a couple of hours (at most) that your car was moved? That wouldn't happen if you parked the car at the airport, but might if you parked it everyday at your office. I think it remembers frequented locations as a sort of "home", and moving the Air Tag away from "home" without your iPhone nearby triggers a notice that goes to your phone.

Note that Apple is not clear about how long it takes to notify an iPhone carrying thief that just stole your car. They say if a foreign Air Tag is traveling with you, you will get a notice on your iPhone (14.5) after "awhile". How long is "awhile"?

Another Air Tag feature that might have an interesting twist. If you put it in Lost Mode, it will send out a signal to iPhones near the lost Air Tag with your own personal message. That might be something like "if you see an old purple Land Cruiser 4WD nearby IT WAS STOLEN, please call 911 and report the car's location and license number XXX", $200 reward if recovered". That message might be quite unnerving if the perp is in the city, but if they don't have the latest iPhone they will be unawares for 3 days (except for that faint beeping sound they may not hear) and that could be a lot of iPhone eyes. Apparently, all iPhones (iOS 14.5) within 100 meters could get the message? I think I would trigger "Lost Mode" pretty quickly if I lived in the city.

The nationwide recovery rate is about 1/5 cars, but there are huge regional variations. Seems like 50-70% get recovered in the Northwest, so I'm hopeful for @calberta cruiser . If you are in the southern US, only about 18% get recovered.

One disheartening thing that I learned is that my State is the worst in the nation for per-capita car thefts. I liked thinking that the nutty liberals on the west coast just let crime run amok, but they aren't the only ones it seems and California and New York aren't that bad according to the data. Did I mention I was a mad scientist?

I hope I also get the Air Tags in 3-4 days like @EscapeWagon62 . I'm dying to run some tests. I barely have cell phone service at my own home and I can quickly get to the middle of nowhere or I can head down into the belly of the beast in Albuquerque where iPhones should be everywhere. I'll start by sending my wife to Costco. After the test I'll add her to the Circle of Trust.

Does anyone know if the Air Tags work in Mexico or Canada?
 
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Ditto to what other's have said in the thread. I also thought about it for my truck, but thieves will get this notification on their iPhone. Not only will they be informed that they are being tracked, but can also disable it for safety and privacy reasons - which totally makes sense imo. The primary use case is to find lost items, not stolen ones. But hey at $30, perhaps it might serve as a cheap deterrent.
IMG_9281.png
 

John McVicker

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I don’t know how bright of an idea this is, but I’ve ordered 4 AirTags. Will use these in addition to whichever hard wired GPS unit I get, (still researching my options).

I will place at least 2, maybe 3 and maybe even all 4 in hidden places on my 60. I would think that if the bad guy did get the message on his phone...he might abandoned his theft. Actually I think it would be best if the bad guy did have an iPhone and actually gets the message.

For me at least it will be worth the $$ to have as an addition to the hardwired GPS.
 

MTB Land Cruise

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From personal So Cal LEO experience. The quicker a stole vehicle is reported the better chance it has for quick recovery. Today, many people, including Cops; have immediate access to an Apple device that can be used to activate the Find My Device feature. Although not normally reported by the Media or Law Enforcement, Cops routinely use this tactic, and they have had very good success in tracking/finding the stolen vehicle quicker.

This tactic has become more frequent because of the increased number of Apple Devices i.e., iPad, iPhone, etc., people carry or leave in their vehicle. Haven’t heard of the “Air Tag” being used yet, but if the find/track feature works similar to the other Apple devices, logic follows.

So, if you are already an Apple device user, spending an additional $30.00 might be worth it to you in increasing the odds of getting your LC back.

Using an Alarm, the Club, Kill Switch, removing the main fuse, Lojack, other Tracking Devices is good deterrent; somewhere in the mix or a combination of, is a sweet spot. Anything you can do to prevent the theft or aid in the recovery of your beloved LC is a good thing.
 
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Ive been thinking about the Airtags as well. If you could change the airtag message that would be awesome. Something a long the lines of " This vehicle has multiple GPS tracking devices installed and law enforcement has been notified of its unauthorized use"

I've also considerd just activating an old iphone with xfinity on their cheap $5/month data plan and stashing it in the truck somewhere and running power to it. Then I also have a back up phone in case of an emergency.
 
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My reply on the air tag custom screen message would say
“ I already know where you are, and I am coming for you, not the vehicle, for your safety and everyone around you, you should call the cops now”

I also ordered 4 pack of these. mine arrive in 3weeks
 

OSS

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Apple's Find My network IS a good theft tracking system. The actual AirTags not so much.
There is an E-bike manufacturer that implemented the Find My network into their existing tracker (imbedded inside the bike frame) so if their bike gets stolen (and there happens to be iPhone user/s nearby with a modern iPhone and most recent version of iOS) the bike owner can see its location.
Something like this would be best for tracking car theft. Just need to wait for a third party to create the device — and you can be sure someone will soon.

Here's the article—

 

Gretsch

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Apple's Find My network IS a good theft tracking system. The actual AirTags not so much.
There is an E-bike manufacturer that implemented the Find My network into their existing tracker (imbedded inside the bike frame) so if their bike gets stolen (and there happens to be iPhone user/s nearby with a modern iPhone and most recent version of iOS) the bike owner can see its location.
Something like this would be best for tracking car theft. Just need to wait for a third party to create the device — and you can be sure someone will soon.

Here's the article—


Seems to me this is exactly the situation and most likely the future for tracking 'things' from a theft standpoint. Manufacturers will make devices to leverage the existing FindMy infrastructure specifically as an anti-theft device. So instead of a device based on GPS tracking, it will be based on FindMy crowdsource tracking. Will most likely be expensive to cover development and whatever licensing charges Apple requires for FindMy access, but I think for what most of us have invested in our trucks, it would be of little significance if it meant us potentially getting our trucks back from being stolen. We live in the future.
 
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EscapeWagon62

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It seems to work as advertised. Works exactly like “find my iPhone” so location shows up within approx 50 ft of it’s actual location.
I surrounded it with some foam insulation to mute the noise its designed to put off if its traveling with another person for a period of time (anti stalking feature)
Nothing I can do to stop it from alerting another phone that an unrecognized air tag is near it.

Apple did announce further privacy and anti stalking updates tp air tags this week. They are still a bit vague on when it will notify a non-tag owner of its presence

None of this worries me, I figure it’ll give me a better shot at recovery in the first 24/48 hours which is all I was hoping for.
 

WoodnotRust

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Works exactly like “find my iPhone” so location shows up within approx 50 ft of it’s actual location
Thanks. My AirTags should come next week and I've been thinking about where I should install them. Someplace that is easy enough to find so I can change the batteries once every 9-12 months, but not so easy to find otherwise. The foam wrap is a good idea...makes me wonder if one can't disable to sound emitter on the unit itself.

It hope they arrive before the advertised Apple updates so I can run a series of basic tests, and then maybe re-run the same tests every once in awhile to understand the updates.

1. My wife takes the car to the store without her cell phone. She's acting as a thief without an iPhone.
a. Do I get a notification that my AirTag has left "home" and how long does this take, ...or do I have to initiate a search to realize it is gone?

2. My wife takes the car before I include her "in the circle of trust". She's acting as a thief with a new-model iPhone.
a. How long before my wife gets a notification that a foreign AirTag is traveling with her? Is the notification really obvious to her when it happens?

3. After she tells me she's been notified of the traveling AirTag, I put the AirTag in "lost mode". With a message that say's "call me if you see this car, reward".
a. Is the sound emitted really loud and can be heard while driving, or only when the car is parked?
b. Is the manner of notification to her [thief] different than Test #2?
c. Will other people call me to say they have seen my car? That might cost me $10/person that calls since I advertised a "reward".

4, After she is notified AND after I put it in Lost Mode, she "disables" the AirTag.
a. Is that a permanent disabling of that AirTag or can they be reset?
b. Am I notified that my AirTag was disabled with a last known location?
c. If the AirTag was in "Lost Mode", is it still sending that signal to other people, or is it only disabled with respect to my ability to track the AirTag?

5. What if there are two AirTag's in the vehicle, do they act as completely independent entities? Is there a benefit to having more than one on the vehicle?
a. Run tests above with two separate AirTags on the vehicle.

Am I missing another critical test?
 
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EscapeWagon62

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Thanks. My AirTags should come next week and I've been thinking about where I should install them. Someplace that is easy enough to find so I can change the batteries once every 9-12 months, but not so easy to find otherwise. The foam wrap is a good idea...makes me wonder if one can't disable to sound emitter on the unit itself.

It hope they arrive before the advertised Apple updates so I can run a series of basic tests, and then maybe re-run the same tests every once in awhile to understand the updates.

1. My wife takes the car to the store without her cell phone. She's acting as a thief without an iPhone.
a. Do I get a notification that my AirTag has left "home" and how long does this take, ...or do I have to initiate a search to realize it is gone?

2. My wife takes the car before I include her "in the circle of trust". She's acting as a thief with a new-model iPhone.
a. How long before my wife gets a notification that a foreign AirTag is traveling with her? Is the notification really obvious to her when it happens?

3. After she tells me she's been notified of the traveling AirTag, I put the AirTag in "lost mode". With a message that say's "call me if you see this car, reward".
a. Is the sound emitted really loud and can be heard while driving, or only when the car is parked?
b. Is the manner of notification to her [thief] different than Test #2?
c. Will other people call me to say they have seen my car? That might cost me $10/person that calls since I advertised a "reward".

4, After she is notified AND after I put it in Lost Mode, she "disables" the AirTag.
a. Is that a permanent disabling of that AirTag or can they be reset?
b. Am I notified that my AirTag was disabled with a last known location?
c. If the AirTag was in "Lost Mode", is it still sending that signal to other people, or is it only disabled with respect to my ability to track the AirTag?

5. What if there are two AirTag's in the vehicle, do they act as completely independent entities? Is there a benefit to having more than one on the vehicle?
a. Run tests above with two separate AirTags on the vehicle.

Am I missing another critical test?
All good ideas for tests.
What might keep you from a complete understanding of its behavior is the random timing Apple will be using......no way to exactly know when beeping will start etc.
As for disable....I think it just “forgets” the phone that asks not to be tracked
 

John McVicker

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Great info @WoodnotRust and video. He did a good job of explaining what needs to be done.

Just got my pack of 4, took right at 3 weeks to arrive. Not certain but considering removing the speaker for the ones for the 60 & 40.

Not exactly sure where I will use the other 2 but will prob keep the speaker on those.
 

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