According to a recent report, police in Portland received technical assistance from Apple’s AirTag after an armed robber inadvertently picked up a tracking device during a second theft. An armed robbery on Thursday in the 100 block of Northwest Broadway in Portland, Ore., involved the robbery of a store. The man, identified by police as Justin Johnston, pointed a gun at a store worker for money and took the victim’s phone and wallet.
KATU2 reported that the police went to the SW Third Avenue and SW Pine Street area and saw him entering and leaving the suite hotel on surveillance video. Later in the day, hotel security contacted police saying the suspect had returned to the hotel. While trying to apprehend the suspect, he ran into the hotel and evaded arrest before setting off the fire alarm. During the search, police found a fake handgun in the fire escape.
Fortunately, a hotel guest then notified police that someone had broken into his room and took items from the room, including a “unique backpack” with an AirTag attached. The Police then used the AirTag to track the suspect to North Portland.
Johnson was charged with second-degree robbery and first-degree theft. Earlier on May 9, Apple AirTag helped recover $7,000 worth of photography equipment in Australia. However, the trackers continue to be controversial as some try to use them to track others. This is an issue that has caught the attention of lawmakers.
Ohio is enacting a new bill to ban Apple AirTags from tracking people
AirTag has been helping Apple users track their lost or stolen items since last year. However, some people have been using the tracking device for more nefarious purposes. Back in February, 3News reported on an incident involving an Akron woman whose car was being tracked by AirTag. It was the AirTag’s alert that alerted her and prompted her to seek help from Akron police. After inspecting her car, police found an AirTag in the rear bumper of her car.
Because of the potential danger that it could cause, there have been calls for laws limiting the use of AirTags. In Ohio, there has also been serious lobbying of lawmakers with support from both Democrats and Republicans. Due to this effort, two representatives announced the introduction of a new bill, HB672, in the Ohio House of Representatives. This would “generally prohibit a person from knowingly installing a tracking device or app on someone else’s property without their consent”. Pennsylvania is also working to address the issue within its state, introducing legislation that would criminalize the misuse of AirTags.
Apple has also been working to improve its anti-tracking measures for AirTags. With a recent update, the company issued a privacy alert to those setting up new AirTags. Additionally, new firmware updates will sound when unknown AirTags appear among users, making them easier to find.