WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) — West Seneca Police are warning car owners of a new tracking device that can be used to steal cars or worse, commit other more serious crimes.
It’s called an Apple ‘AirTag,’ and secretly placing a device like this is against a law inspired by the murder of a woman from West Seneca.
West Seneca Police say they have received two complaints of Apple AirTags being placed secretly on cars without the owner’s consent. The AirTag’s utilize Bluetooth for tracking purposes, but there are many other devices out there that use similar technology.
West Seneca police posted the alert on their Facebook page, what the AirTag looks like, and the message an iPhone user might get when an AirTag is nearby. But authorities say there are many other devices that can be easily hidden.
“Somewhere there has been trackers in a diaper bag. They can put them anywhere, and they are so small they are extremely hard to detect,” said Ava Thomas of the Family Justice Center.
But secretly tracking someone electronically without their consent is against the law. Specifically in New York, it is known as “Jackie’s Law” named for Jackie Wisniewski, a hospital worker at ECMC who was stalked by an ex-boyfriend using a GPS tracking device and eventually murdered.
But authorities say AirTags are being used in other areas by car thieves, especially in Toronto, Canada.
“What could be happening is a car thief might identify a car they would like to steal, attach an AirTag to the car, and then let the AirTag tell them where the car has gone,” said Dave Newell, president, Loptr LLC.
But cyber security expert Dave Newell told News 4, an AirTag like this will show up on iPhones nearby, and there are other ways of discovering if you are being tracked, such as an app called AirGuard.
“So if somebody has hooked something up to your car, or slipped something into a jacket pocket, then you should actually be able to use your device, your iPhone or an Android if you are running the AirGuard app to actually find the monitoring device,” Newell said.
But Ava Thomas says, anyone who truly believes they are being stalked electronically should go to the police or contact the Family Justice Center.
“If anybody suspects that they are being tracked in any way to call us and we will link them with an advocate and make sure you are linked with the proper resources so that it can happen,” Thomas told News 4.
If you believe you are a target of an illegal electronic tracking device like this, report it to the police. You can also contact the Family Justice Center online, or call, 716-558-SAFE (7233).
The AirTag is legal because it has a number of good uses.