Apple announced AirTags back in April, enabling consumers to track items. While the device is meant to be used as a key finder so people can locate personal objects that may be misplaced easily, its utility is being misused by malicious actors in some areas.
As reported by MacRumors, the York regional police has issued an advisory indicating that at least five incidents have involved the use of AirTags to steal cars which are parked in public places. Thieves reportedly place the AirTags in discreet locations of the cars like in a tow hitch, inside the bumper, or in an external electrical port, making it difficult for car owners to notice the small device.
These AirTags use nearby Apple devices as crowd-sourced beacons to broadcast the location of the car to thieves so they can plan their heist under conducive conditions. Although Apple issues notifications to nearby users if it suspects that AirTags are being used to track their location, it's possible that victims dismiss these alerts or don't even use an Apple device to receive said alerts.
That said, AirTags are apparently being used just to track the vehicles. Under conducive conditions, thieves then use traditional methods such as screw drivers and other tools to actually break into the car. Although the York police has just linked five cases of car thefts to Apple AirTags right now, it's possible that other malicious actors are leveraging the same modus operandi in their heists.