Apple Air Tags are once again being deployed as a solution to rising car thefts in America. This time, Washington D.C.’s mayor and its acting police chief are providing residents from certain neighborhoods with the tracking devices for free, in an attempt to assist with efforts to find stolen vehicles.
In so doing, the district is following a precedent set by New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who offered 500 free AirTags to New Yorkers in April in an effort to curb thefts. In Washington, D.C., the devices will be handed out to residents at three events over the coming months, though police have not yet confirmed how many they are planning to hand out in total.
In order to receive a free AirTag, which retails for around $30, event attendees will have to offer proof of residency, per DCist. That address doesn’t just have to be in D.C., it has to be in one of the police service areas that authorities are targeting.
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Once they prove that they live in the right area, residents will get their free AirTag, in addition to help registering it on their phone. Police say they will not be able to access the location of the tag, unless the possessor shares it with them during an investigation.
Washington, D.C. Acting Police Chief Pamela Smith admits that the AirTags will not help prevent a vehicle from being stolen. However, she claims that in addition to helping police find a vehicle once it is taken, it could help prevent further thefts.
“What we know is individuals that are involved in this type of criminal activity often commit multiple offenses, and a single arrest can help bring closure to multiple cases,” Smith said.
Like other areas across the country, Washington D.C. is dealing with increasing rates of car thefts, driven by Kia and Hyundai vehicles, whose security lapses were widely publicized on social media in recent years. The district experienced a 100 percent increase in auto thefts this year, as compared to 2022.
Just the latest effort to stop the trend, Washington, D.C. police also offered steering wheel locks to owners of Kia and Hyundai vehicles earlier this year.