Launched in April of 2021, the Apple AirTag was promoted as a device that could help individuals track their phones, keys, purses, or other belongings. Now, police are warning people to be careful of the fact that individuals are using the device to track others in what’s being called “AirTag stalking.”
Williston Police Chief Patrick Foley says the Bluetooth device makes the perfect tool for stalking, often without the victim even being aware. “It’s a serious problem now and its becoming more prevalent.
It’s so small, you know, its the size of a half dollar probably. The thing is, you can just drop it in there, a purse, or a bumper of a car, or license plate. We’re seeing more issues with that in the area.”
Foley adds that it is a real danger for people in domestic situations, who may have a restraining order against someone. According to police, usually individuals will get alerts on their iPhones that an unknown AirTag is nearby, and following them and pointed to a recent AirTag stalking case in St. Johnsbury.
A woman in St. Johnsbury called Vermont State Police after she suspected her ex-boyfriend had placed an AirTag in her car while making a repair.
“Investigation revealed that the suspect in this case had placed it within a taillight assembly, and the suspect when questioned admitted to doing so,” said Lt. Greg Campbell, who leads the the VSP Technology Investigation Unit.
While the ex had admitted to hiding the AirTag, police say in other cases, it may not be so easy to hold stalkers accountable and while the crimes are fairly new, Lt. Campbell anticipates some challenges for law enforcement.
“While there are safeguards in place, on the flip side as Apple has indicated, it is a form of anonymous encrypted, so the challenge for law enforcement is once the device is located, attempting to identify who it belonged to because it’s purpose is to remain anonymous. It will require that extra step.”