USA-Washington DC distributes free AirTags to people to track if their car is stolen.
The initiative was launched in the context of a sharp increase in car theft here. Accordingly, people in some areas with a high number of car thefts will be given tracking devices, specifically AirTag.
The city's police said they will organize distribution sessions and installation instructions for users. They also confirmed that the device's location cannot be accessed, but when people lose their vehicles, they must provide location information to the authorities.
AirTag costs about 30 USD, is a positioning accessory with the advantage of a network of Apple devices everywhere. Through Bluetooth, AirTag can connect to surrounding Apple devices, from which location data will be encrypted and sent to the server, then transmitted back to the user's device via the Find My application.
Although it can assist in detecting car theft, AirTag is also being exploited to do the opposite. Some thieves have secretly attached AirTags to expensive cars, thereby knowing the target's destination and home location and committing illegal acts.
The city of Washington did not announce the number of AirTags it will give out, but encouraged residents to "consider" purchasing one to put in their car. According to DCIst, the number of car thefts recorded in the city increased by 101% in the past year.
Previously, New York City also distributed 500 AirTags for free and called it a "21st century police initiative" to track stolen cars. However, the effectiveness of this approach has not been published.