The Apple AirTag was designed to help people keep track of things like keys and wallets, but it really doesn't matter how big those things are.
The tiny piece of tech taps into the Bluetooth network created by millions of Apple products to monitor its location and can be tracked down no matter what it's attached to.
Fox News Autos recently tested its usefulness as a stolen car tracking device alternative to products that cost hundreds of dollars and require service contracts and found it to be very effective.
Fox discretely placed it in several different locations in a variety of vehicles and moved them around in both urban and rural settings.
It worked flawlessly in every case, giving a general location of where the vehicles had been parked. Granted, some connection to the network is required, so its possible to take it to the middle of nowhere and out of range, but any iPhone that gets near it will pin its location.
The AirTag is equipped with an anti-stalking feature that briefly chirps when it is moved and not in range of the phone it is paired to, but it's pretty quiet and can easily be drowned out by a loud outdoor environment. The system will also eventually cause it to alert any iPhone users nearby that there is an unknown AirTag in the vicinity with a pop-up message on their screen and will repeat the audible alert, but at least one real-world example of it being used as a vehicle tracking device indicates that crooks can be too busy to notice or easily fooled.
Dan Guido, CEO of cybersecurity firm Trail of Bits, this week recounted an incident where he used AirTags to find his stolen $800 Ninebot electric scooter in Brooklyn. Guido did not respond to a request for comment, but a New York City Police Department spokesman confirmed the main details of the account were accurate to Fox News Autos.
Guido had actually hidden two AirTags on the scooter, one in the wheel well as a decoy and the other within the handlebar stem, both of them covered in heavy black duct tape.
He was quickly able to track it to an apartment block, but had to go out of town before he could investigate further. When he returned several days later, it was in the same location, so he enlisted the local police department to assist him.
He said the officers weren't familiar with the product and needed some convincing, but when they returned to the scene they noticed that there was a used electric scooter store in the area.
Sure enough, the scooter was inside and recovered using the more precise locating feature available to iPhone 11 and 12 users. Security camera footage captured the person who sold it to the store, but they conducted the transaction anonymously and haven't been found.
Guido said damage to the scooter indicated that the thieves had been looking for the second AirTag, presumably because it had made the alert noise, but were unsuccessful.
One feature missing is an alert for the AirTag owner that lets them know a tag is in motion, which would give them a head's up that their vehicle had been stolen. Guido notes that you really need to act quickly before the tag is discovered, or hope that it isn't.
If you do use an AirTag in this fashion, keep in mind that many state and federal laws make it a crime to track other people or their property with electronic devices, so it should only be used on personally-owned vehicles.