Why it matters: As several cities embrace the use of AirTags and other Bluetooth trackers to combat soaring car thefts, security experts fear the devices can foster a “Wild West” vigilantism that poses risks to citizens — and potential legal issues for cities.
Zoom in: At least two people have been killed in recent months in cases that authorities say involved victims using real-time tracking data to locate their stolen cars.
- A San Antonio man fatally shot a suspected car thief in March after tracking his stolen vehicle to a shopping center, police said. The shooter is not expected to face charges.
- In Denver, police say a Colorado man tracked his stolen car and got into a confrontation with someone in the vehicle.
- Shots were fired from the vehicle and the car owner, also armed, returned fire. A 12-year-old boy in the car was killed. The car’s owner wasn’t charged.
State of play: New York, the nation’s largest city, this month began handing out 500 free AirTags to fight auto theft and carjackings.
By the numbers: Car thefts in 30 major cities jumped by 59% from 2019 to 2022, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Council on Criminal Justice.