Hey, y’all, and welcome to Southern Macabre! I’m Aeryn and I’m so glad that you’re joining me today for True Crime Friday. Today’s episode is going to be a little bit different, but we are still talking about true crime.
I have seen so many news articles, YouTube videos, and Tik Toks talking about people being stalked using Apple AirTags. Today I’m going to tell you a few examples, explain how Air Tags work, and how you can stay safe even if you have an Android phone. I’ll also tell you what to do if you find an Air Tag or just think you’re being followed using one. So let’s get started!
You may be wondering, “What is an Apple AirTag?”. That’s a good question because not everyone is tech savvy, and they have a hard enough time keeping up with the latest phones let alone new technology that companies are developing. An AirTag is a one inch in diameter disk that you can hook to your keys, slip in a wallet, or attach to almost anything you don’t want to lose. It’s easy to conceal and it uses Bluetooth and the built-in U1 chip to create its own network using Apple devices around it.
This means that the AirTag will ping the location of devices around it in order to determine where it is. That information is then sent to the iPhone or iPad owner’s Find My app so they can get their AirTag. This also means that it doesn’t really need Bluetooth after it has been set up.
The problem is that criminals are sliding them into stranger’s pockets, purses, or attaching them to cars so they can track that person. If you’re not aware of the tracking device then you may drive home and then they can rob your house, steal your car, or kidnap you at their leisure. If you have an iPhone 11 or newer then you’re supposed to get a notification, but it hasn’t been foolproof so far. Apple is working on it and acknowledges that this is a real problem. Especially if someone slides one in on you and you’re an Android user. If this happens, the AirTag will beep sometime between eight and twenty-four hours of being separated from its owner or you can download the app. I included the link in the description and on the blog in the credits.
You may be wondering, “What about Tile?” I couldn’t find anything on their website that warns you about being tracked so I reached out to them. Tile only uses Bluetooth so it can’t track moving objects like AirTags can. It doesn’t supply real time information and won’t be able to find you once you get 150 to 400 feet away from who is trying to track you. Also, with Tile the actual device beeps until you find it, deterring a would-be stalker. AirTags don’t make a sound unless the owner presses a button on their phone, or it realizes it has not been near the owner in a while.
About a year ago, Samsung introduced its own SmartTag which is more like Tile than Apple. It only uses Bluetooth so you can only be tracked 130 yards as long as there’s nothing obstructing the signal. So, you could possibly prevent being stalked by running because you will probably notice someone chasing you or following you in a car. According to Samsung’s website they can’t check your location at their leisure or watch your movements in real time. I read the reviews and people claim that they couldn’t track their SmartTag once they were too far away, it would just tell them where it pinged the last time they were in range.
For example, if someone puts a SmartTag on their keys and lose them in their couch, they will find their keys. But if their keys fall out in the Uber they took to the bar, their keys will have to be replaced. So, if someone put a SmartTag in your purse at Walmart and you drove straight home, they just wasted $30 and you have a new SmartTag.
I saw a Tik Tok where a woman was notified at 11:30PM that she had been tracked by an AirTag since 5:05PM! She had an iPhone and it still took five and a half hours to let her know! I watched a TikTok from a few days ago and the reporter said it is not illegal to put a tracking device on another person’s vehicle in Georgia and several other states. I was curious what other states allow this, so I Googled it. If you’re not in the south, you can find the link on Southern-Macabre.com at the end of today’s transcript to see if your state protects you in case someone does try to track you.
It is only illegal to track someone in Alabama if you have to trespass on private property to do it. In Florida you cannot track someone without their knowledge. You are on your own in Georgia – there are not any laws against tracking a person or vehicle. In Mississippi they must stalk you twice before the law gets involved. It is illegal to stalk someone in any capacity in North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Some southern state’s laws are as clear as mud, so I recommend calling your local police department before you find an AirTag on your vehicle or in your purse, so you know your local laws.
What should you do if you find out you’re being tracked? First, disable the AirTag using the on-screen instructions and then go to the closest police station and tell them that someone has put an AirTag on you. Then try to find it so that it can be scanned, and they can find the owner. Apple is working with law enforcement in these cases. Never go home, to a friend’s house, or anywhere like that because they can save that location for later and still get you. Or steal your car when you go back to that location.
If the tracker is most likely on your car, go to a mechanic or body shop and tell them that you believe there’s a tracker on it. Stay with someone and call the police to let them know that someone is stalking you. AirTags are being found behind license plates, inside bumpers, attached to the undercarriage, in wheel wells, and even on the door for the gas tank! A woman in Atlanta has been getting notified for a while and still can’t find the AirTag!
Incidents have been reported in several states, including three southern states. This is a nationwide problem, so we all must be vigilant. If you think someone is following you, don’t wait for a notification. Go to the closest police station or someplace busy and tell someone you trust. Especially if you have recently been a victim of domestic violence.
I could not find any cases where someone was hurt, killed, or had their carjacked because of an AirTag, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. I think there could be cases, but if someone did commit a crime this way then they’re going to get their AirTag back because they are traceable. Once the police have the device, they can call Apple and get the location history and who registered it. Even if the perpetrator uses a fake identity, they can likely use the locations to figure out who it is.
Since I strive for transparency, I want to tell you that I have been deeply ingrained in the Apple ecosystem in the past, but I’m not now. I use an Apple iPhone SE 2020, so not the latest and greatest, along with an Android tablet. I understand that AirTags can be great for people who are always losing their keys, wallet, or even a family pet. However, I think Apple could do more to keep people safe from criminals who are stalking people.
For instance, why wait so long to send a notification? An hour should be sufficient and if the person says the AirTag belongs to someone they know then it can stop sending them. Personally, I would rather receive a lot of wrong notifications if it means someone else stays safe.
Now, I don’t have any of these devices because I don’t lose my wallet, keys, or purse. I lose hats and I can’t figure out how I could attach one of these without it looking weird or being uncomfortable.
I think it is important for women and men to get self-defense training. For y’all saying, “Why men?” Let’s be honest, some men can benefit in the training to protect themselves from other men and crazy women. We all have that one friend, am I right? You know, something happens where they live and you’re wondering where she was at 2AM.
If you are comfortable and are willing to go through training, I also recommend getting your concealed carry permit. Not everyone should have it and not everyone wants it and that’s fine.
That’s going to do it for today. If you enjoyed today’s episode be sure to leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or Goodpods and follow us wherever you get your podcasts. If you want to get in touch with me, I’m Aeryn Grey on Twitter and my Facebook is Southern Macabre. You can also email me at Aeryn@Southern-Macabre.com.
Also, please check out our Patreon, it will be in the description and it is listed on the website.
Thank y’all so much for listening today! Make sure to come back on Monday for our Missing Person episode and on Wednesday for a new paranormal story. I hope y’all have a wonderful weekend. God bless, y’all!