ATLANTA — Tracking your lost items is becoming easier with new technology like the Apple AirTag. You can find your missing keys, wallet or purse with the press of a button. But with the solution to one problem came the advent of another; instead of using the AirTag to track items, some are using them to track people.
Police reports of unwanted tracking have surfaced in Atlanta, Gwinnett County and Cobb County.
“Are we safe? Like, are we going to be safe?” asked a woman we’re calling “Claudia” after she got a notification on her iPhone that an unknown accessory was seen traveling with her.
“I could see on the map in the find my app that it had tracked or followed me,” she said.
Posts about unknown AirTags on people’s property are flooding social media.
“I started freaking out,” said Leah Dollison.
Dollison lives in Lubbock, Texas -- different state, same notification.
“The message specifically said this AirTag was seen traveling with you,” Dollison said.
A bodyshop found an AirTag hidden underneath her car.
“There was, like, a long red line going to Idalou and then coming back, and that was me dropping off my children,” she said.
Dollison did what Apple tells people to do if they find a suspicious AirTag; she called the police. But, the technology is so new it’s taking police by surprise, as we discovered their reactions on body worn cameras obtained by The Reveal.
“This is my first instance of running into something like this,” said one Atlanta officer, who was on scene following a report of a woman being tracked by an AirTag.
Another officer tried explaining to a superior what’s going on in a separate AirTag tracking report.
“It’s literally been tracking her car. Apparently, it can be detected for whatever reason,” the officer said. “How does your phone pick it up?” he called out to the woman reporting the AirTag.
The problem of unwanted AirTags tracking people is growing. We uncovered eight police reports in our area, most within the last month.
Private investigator Eric Echols said police are not caught up with this technology.
“It’s outpacing police and it’s outpacing the law,” said Echols.
Not only is it scary that someone can track you, Echols said it is also completely legal.
“In Georgia, any person can put a GPS device on any person’s vehicle as long as that vehicle is in a public setting,” he said.
He also added the device must be on the outside of the vehicle per Georgia law. And at only $29 a piece, the AirTag is easily accessible to just about anyone.
“I foresee, there will be some liability where someone’s going to be injured and the cause of it is going to be because of this tag used to track this individual or find this individual. It’s just a matter of time,” said Echols.
“I just didn’t think that it was going to happen to me,” said Dollison.
The reality is it could happen to anyone, so here’s what you need to know if it happens to you.
First, if you get a notification on your phone that an AirTag or unknown accessory is seen traveling with you, Echols said to resist driving home. You do not want to lead anyone who is potentially tracking you to where you live, he added. Instead, he said drive to a public place or a police station.
Second, if you have an iPhone, it should give you an option to play a sound on the AirTag that will alert you to where it is. If you do not have an iPhone, Apple says the AirTag will automatically play that sound once it’s separated from its owner for a period of time.
If you find an AirTag, you can simply twist off the stop and remove the battery to disable it.
Apple denied our request for an on-camera interview, but told us it is possible for someone to get a “false alert” if someone is traveling with you who has an AirTag.
“AirTag and the Find My network have also been designed to discourage unwanted tracking,” Apple said.
For a full list of step-by-step instructions on what to do if you get a notification that you are being tracked, click here.