The Apple tracking devices wouldn’t make stealing vehicles more difficult but could lead police to them afterward.
New York City is handing out 500 free Apple AirTags to help police fight an epidemic of stolen Hyundais and Kias.
Mayor Eric Adams said at a press conference last week that the city, like others around the country, has seen a rise in car thefts linked to viral TikTok videos that show how to easily steal many Hyundais and Kias using a USB cable and other common tools. The AirTags wouldn’t make stealing vehicles more difficult but could lead police to them afterward.
“You will see the spike that we are experiencing now is a large part of what’s happening on social media,” Adams said.
New York Police Department officials said it knew of 966 stolen Hyundais and Kias so far in 2023, which is already more than the 819 reported last year. Hyundais and Kias account for more than 20 percent of all stolen vehicles in the city.
Adams said police wouldn’t automatically be able to track the AirTags being given away. A vehicle owner would have to report the theft to NYPD and give permission to track it. The AirTags, which cost $29 each, were donated by the nonprofit Association for a Better New York.
Hyundai and Kia are offering software upgrades to 8.3 million U.S. vehicles to make them less vulnerable to theft. Adams said in April that the city planned to join ongoing litigation against Hyundai and Kia.