New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) recently encouraged residents to use Apple AirTags to help combat the city’s surging car theft numbers. New York City Police Department Chief Jeffrey Maddrey added to the Mayor’s message, tweeting: “Help us help you, get an AirTag.”
Ars Technica reports that in an effort to reduce the city’s rising car theft rate, New York City Mayor Eric Adams urged local car owners to install Apple AirTags in their vehicles during a press conference on Sunday. Adams announced the giveaway of 500 free AirTags, claiming the technology would help lower the city’s alarmingly high rate of auto theft.
At the press conference held at the Bronx’s 43rd precinct, Adams disclosed that 200 instances of grand larceny of vehicles had occurred. He also emphasized that Hyundai and Kia vehicles are particularly targeted; this year, 966 of these brands have been stolen, exceeding the 819 reported in 2022. The largest increase among NYC’s seven major crime categories, 4,492 vehicle thefts have been reported this year, up 13.3 percent from the same period last year, according to the NYPD’s public crime statistics tracker.
Adams urged New Yorkers to “participate” in the fight against car theft by using an AirTag, stating, “It’s very simple. The charging life lasts a long time, and you can see in real time where that vehicle is located.” New York City Police Department Chief Jeffrey Maddrey tweeted, “Help us help you, get an AirTag.”
AirTags do have some drawbacks, though, like the fact that they don’t work very well with Android phones and have a history of being used for stalking. During the press conference, Adams was asked if AirTags work with Android devices, to which he responded, “Why would anyone have one [an Android phone]?” The city did not share plans to push any other technology that may be relevant for users of Android or other non-Apple phones.
Despite these drawbacks, John Chell, the chief of patrol for the NYPD, asserted during a press conference on Sunday that “innovative” methods enable AirTags to develop into “a new means to increase public safety.” The NYPD won’t be able to track the free or other AirTags by themselves, it’s important to remember that. Instead, they will attempt to track the victim’s vehicle using the victim’s phone.
Adams stated, “This is not a centralized tracking system where we’re in charge of tracking someone’s car. If an owner gets a notification that their car is moving without their authorization, they will notify the police department, who would automatically use that information with the owner’s permission to track the stolen vehicle.”
The 500 AirTags were purchased by the Association for a Better New York (ABNY), a non-profit organization Lewis Rudin founded in New York. Mayor Adams also spoke about the city’s plans to work with other organizations to increase donations for the city’s fight against vehicle theft.