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Apple AirTags reportedly being used to stalk women — what to do

An Apple AirTag partly inserted into a woman's wallet.
(Image credit: Steve Heap/Shutterstock)

More tales are surfacing online about the Apple AirTag being used to track cars, or even stalk women, in nefarious ways.

"Someone attached an Apple AirTag to the underside of my front wheel well while I was inside a bar," wrote Baltimore-area Twitter user @Sega__JEANAsis (opens in new tab) over the weekend in a tweetstorm that was widely forwarded. 

The Twitter user, who also uses the name Jaz W. (opens in new tab)  online, said the incident took place early Saturday morning (Dec. 18) and was "kinda terrifying." She said she started getting alerts on her iPhone as she drove away from the bar that an AirTag was found moving with her — even with no other cars on the road.

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"I checked all my things, like my purse, my trench coat pockets, my wallet — couldn't find anything," @Sega__JEANAsis wrote. "While I was asleep I had someone close to me check my car and they found it stuck on the underside of my front passenger wheel well."

"It bothers me cause no matter how *safe* women try to be," she added, "it doesn't matter if someone truly wishes to harm you."

It wasn't clear if the person who put the AirTag on @Sega__JEANAsis's car intended to follow her or her car. Recent reports have come from Toronto, Detroit (opens in new tab)  and Houston (opens in new tab)  of car thieves using AirTags to follow prospective vehicles from public places to locations where they can be more easily stolen.

@Sega__JEANAsis admitted that "they def could have just wanted my car, it's slightly on the higher end side but nothing crazy." 

"I like to think this is the reality instead of them physically wanting me for God knows what," she added.

(Even more reports of AirTag stalking were reported in late December 2021 and early January 2022, although in most of these incidents, local police took the reports very seriously. Then modified AirTags with their speakers removed so they wouldn't beep turned up for sale online.)

Many more such incidents

This isn't the only such incident to be reported in recent months. A Jonesboro, Arkansas, woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, found an AirTag taped her car's trunk after she shopped for a Christmas tree in November, according to TV station KAIT-TV (opens in new tab)

California resident @_ashleyscarlett (opens in new tab), identified by InTheKnow (opens in new tab) as Ashley Estrada, said on TikTok Sept. 13 that she had found an AirTag wedged behind her car's license plate soon after she drove from her home in the Inland Empire into Los Angeles. 

In a follow-up video (opens in new tab), Estrada mentioned that her car was a Dodge, and her clips seem to show a Dodge Charger, the same model that seems to be sought by Detroit-area car thieves.

@_ashleyscarlett (opens in new tab)

Reply to @ann_baby7 ##greenscreen ##greenscreenvideo I will be contacting @apple with the air tags info but never in a million years did I think! 😭

♬ original sound - ash 💕 (opens in new tab)

Estrada said that when she reported the incident to police, they dismissed it as a "non-life-threatening situation" — no relief to Estrada, who called the incident "super scary." Estrada said she planned to contact Apple directly.

Another TikTok user, @kimbreezeh (opens in new tab), said in a video posted Sept. 20 that when she told police that there seemed to be a rogue AirTag hidden on her car, they also told her they could not take her report because nothing illegal was going on.

@kimbreezeh (opens in new tab)

This is definitely the scariest thing thats happened to me 🥴 ##fypシ ##fyp ##stalker ##airtag ##airtagsapple ##staysafeeveryone ##ThatCloseMessenger

♬ original sound - Kimbrreezeh (opens in new tab)

"I'm to call them when someone shows up," she said in her video. "That's when they can help me."

TikTok user @murasakisweetpotatoes had better luck with her local police department, according to a video posted June 11. She too found an AirTag under the license plate of the car that she'd been driving, then wrote down the serial number and reported it to police.

@murasakisweetpotatoes (opens in new tab)

and for my birthday i have received One Stalker! but actually not funny pls be aware this can happen ##appleairtags ##stalker

♬ original sound - shelb (opens in new tab)

Apple can, in theory, link that serial number to the device's owner, so someone might be getting an unwelcome call from the cops. 

Again, most of these incidents could be interpreted as setups for car theft as well as possible stalking. There's much less ambiguity with TikTok user @angel.edge95 (opens in new tab), who on Nov. 21 posted a video saying that a rogue AirTag had followed her on a flight from Austin, Texas to Boston.

@angel.edge95 (opens in new tab)

##greenscreen ⚠️share this with your loved ones ⚠️ ##ASOSChaoticToCalm ##traffickingawarenes ##airtag

♬ original sound - biker baddie ✨ (opens in new tab)

She too went to local police, who found an AirTag taped to the inside of one of the bags she'd checked on the plane, @angel.edge95 said in a follow-up video (opens in new tab).

It's not clear what has happened with the cases that the police have taken seriously. We've reached out to Apple with questions about how many incidents of possible AirTag stalking the company has received, and we will update this story when we receive a reply.

What to do if an AirTag is tracking you

If your iPhone tells you that an AirTag has been "found moving with you," take the warning seriously. If you're driving, check the exterior of your car for places where an AirTag might be hidden — under the bumpers, inside the wheel wells, behind a license plate, even inside the gas-cap door or trailer hitch attachment. 

If you're not driving, then check your coat pockets and the bags you're carrying. AirTags are supposed to start chirping if they've been separated from their paired iPhones for eight to 24 hours, but the chirps might not be audible from inside a moving vehicle or if the AirTag is muffled by clothing. 

(In February 2022, Apple said it would make the chirps more audible, sync them with notifications sent to iPhones and let iPhone owners use Precision Finding to locate rogue AirTags.)

There's a lot of concern that Android users won't receive such notifications. Apple last week released an Android app called Device Tracker that does detect rogue AirTags, but the catch is that scans must be initiated manually. If you're truly worried about stalking, you might have to run such scans several times a day.

A better option might be an Android app called AirGuard (opens in new tab), developed by researchers at the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany. It automatically scans for AirTags and other Apple Find My devices that seem to be moving with you. 

We can't vouch for the legitimacy of the AirGuard app, and it does ask for a lot of permissions when you install it, including precise GPS location, access to Bluetooth, full network access, and the abilities to disable battery optimization and prevent an Android device from sleeping. 

But AirGuard's source code is posted on GitHub (opens in new tab) for anyone to review, and the same team of researchers have developed other AirTag-related tools in the past several months.

If you do find the rogue AirTag in your clothing or belongings, or on your car, do not throw out or destroy the AirTag. Instead, disable it by removing the battery —  push down on the AirTag's front, twist it counterclockwise and open up the unit. Write down the AirTag's serial number and report the incident to your local police department and Apple itself.

Read Next: AirTag stalking continues to be a problem — and here's what you can do to protect yourself

Paul Wagenseil
Paul Wagenseil

Paul Wagenseil is a senior editor at Tom's Guide focused on security and privacy. He has also been a dishwasher, fry cook, long-haul driver, code monkey and video editor. He's been rooting around in the information-security space for more than 15 years at FoxNews.com, SecurityNewsDaily, TechNewsDaily and Tom's Guide, has presented talks at the ShmooCon, DerbyCon and BSides Las Vegas hacker conferences, shown up in random TV news spots and even moderated a panel discussion at the CEDIA home-technology conference. You can follow his rants on Twitter at @snd_wagenseil.