Criminals in Montreal Using AirTags to Steal Vehicles

Thieves in Montreal, Canada have been using Apple's AirTags to facilitate vehicle theft, according to a report from Vermont news sites WCAX and NBC5 (via 9to5Mac). Police officers in Burlington, Vermont have issued a warning about AirTags for drivers who recently visited Canada.

airtag new orange
Two Burlington residents found Apple AirTags in their vehicles after returning from trips to Montreal, and these are not the first reports that officers have encountered. One man, Ethan Yang, said he was coming from Montreal after visiting family, and he was alerted that there was an AirTag traveling with him. He was able to use his phone to make the ‌AirTag‌ beep, and he was able to locate the device, which had been placed in the front grille of the vehicle.

Ryan McLiverty, a cyber analyst at the Vermont Intelligence Center, said that while these incidents have been happening for some time, there has been a new spike in activity. Criminals in Montreal are using AirTags to track cars, steal them, and then sell them abroad. There's also a possibility that the AirTags are being used to tag cars as part of an effort to move drugs across the border.

Travelers who are concerned about being tracked via an ‌AirTag‌ should know that there are built-in safety features. An ‌AirTag‌ will send an alert if it is not within distance of the person that owns it, and this alert will show up on iPhones. Android phones are also able to detect unknown Bluetooth trackers, including AirTags, plus Apple has a Tracker Detect app that scans for them.

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Top Rated Comments

Cheesehead Dave Avatar
9 weeks ago
How would they be used to help steal a car? If your car is parked somewhere they can stash a tag in it without notice, why wouldn't they just steal it then?
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HiVolt Avatar
9 weeks ago

Sounds like Canada will be banning AirTags along with the Flipper Zero :rolleyes:.
No, our police are telling people to leave the keyfobs by the front door, so when they break in to steal the keys they are right there for them.

I am not making this up.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
deeddawg Avatar
9 weeks ago

How would they be used to help steal a car? If your car is parked somewhere they can stash a tag in it without notice, why wouldn't they just steal it then?
It allows the thieves to know where the car is parked overnight, where they can then more easily steal it via a car remote relay attack. See https://www.malwarebytes.com/blog/news/2022/05/car-owners-warned-of-another-theft-enabling-relay-attack

Edit - and apparently just hacking the CAN bus is a thing now too... again something much more easily done in the middle of the night than in the daytime in a busy parking lot.

https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2023/04/crooks-are-stealing-cars-using-previously-unknown-keyless-can-injection-attacks/
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Aiii83 Avatar
9 weeks ago
Surely there are better and probably cheaper trackers they could use that don’t have anti-stalker features?
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
seanmcbay Avatar
9 weeks ago

How would they be used to help steal a car? If your car is parked somewhere they can stash a tag in it without notice, why wouldn't they just steal it then?
Yeah, makes no sense. One idiot tried something so now we have to act like it’s a global organized crime operation.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
redcarlsen Avatar
9 weeks ago

There is the "Identify Found item" command in the Find My app, but I suspect the info it provides is only as good as what the AirTag owner entered. I tried it just now with my wife's AirTag and the command would not work, so I can't verify exactly what info it gives...


Because it is much easier to wait and see if the car ends up somewhere much more secluded and private and then steal it at 4:00 in the morning when a lot of the world is likely asleep. Not speaking from experience, but the logic's not complicated. I don't think we're talking about entry-level cars that are being targeted here.
You’re really putting a damper on my new business idea.
I was planning on leaving my 30 yr old Hyundai clunker around various parts of Montreal to collect free AirTags and then sell them.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)