NYC Gives Away Free AirTags to Fight Car Theft


  • New York City wants car owners to use AirTags to combat car theft.
  • Nearly 4,500 vehicles have been reported stolen in New York City so far this year, up 13% year-over-year.
  • The city will be giving out 500 AirTags for free to encourage their use.

New York City is recommending that car owners use AirTags to secure their vehicles amidst a surge in auto thefts — reports ABC7 New York.

AirTags are tiny tracking devices that leverage Apple’s Find My network, which comprises more than one billion devices globally, to relay their location to their owners.

Vehicle theft in New York City is up 13% compared to this time last year, with nearly 4,500 vehicles reported stolen so far this year.

“The aggravating number of grand larceny auto continues to drive up crime in the city and give a false sense that we’re not moving in the right direction when we are,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

City officials hope that discreetly placing AirTags in cars will help discourage carjackings and make vehicles easily trackable in case they do get stolen, and the city is giving away 500 of the trackers for free to encourage their use.

While announcing the program, Mayor Adams called the AirTag a “really amazing piece of ingenuity.”

“This simple device, this simple AirTag, hidden in a car location that a person is not aware of, is an excellent tracking device,” he said. “It’s easy to monitor. You can see in real-time where the vehicle is located.”

A nonprofit organization, Association for a Better New York (ABNY), donated the 500 AirTags that will be handed out to citizens. Most of these will be given out to the Bronx, which has seen the largest spike in car thefts (24%) so far this year. Details for the giveaway will be available on the NYPD’s Twitter account.

AirTags only cost $39 CAD ($29 USD) a pop or as low as $32.25 CAD ($24.75 USD) for a pack of four and each one can run for about a year straight out of the box without needing to have the battery replaced, making them a rather inexpensive and hassle-free deterrent.

“Your phone will be alerted. You know someone’s in your car who’s not supposed to be, and/or it’s stolen. You call 911 as fast as you can,” explained NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell. “You tell the officers involved ‘I have an AirTag,’ and they will immediately with citywide apprehension apparatus will start putting that tag citywide.”

AirTags have been used to locate and recover stolen cars before, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) recently even used them to track suspicious packages.

However, AirTags have some built-in safeguards that could prove counterintuitive in their application as vehicle trackers. When an AirTag is separated from its owner for too long (between 8 and 24 hours), it starts emitting a sound and alerting nearby iPhones of its presence with a notification.

What do you think of using an AirTag to keep track of your car and help recover it in case it gets stolen? Let us know in the comments below.