According to a recent report, Portland police received technical assistance from Apple’s AirTag after an armed robber inadvertently took a tracking device during a second robbery. An armed robbery Thursday in the 100 block of Northwest Broadway in Portland, Oregon, involved the robbery of a store. The man, identified by police as Justin Johnston, pointed a gun at a store employee for cash and took the victim’s phone and wallet.
KATU2 reported that police visited the SW Third Avenue and SW Pine Street area and saw him entering and leaving the hotel suite on CCTV. Later that day, hotel security contacted police saying the suspect had returned to the hotel. As he attempted to apprehend the suspect, he rushed into the hotel and evaded arrest before setting off the fire alarm. During the search, the police found a fake handgun in the fire escape.
Fortunately, a hotel guest then informed the police that someone had broken into his room and taken items from the room, including a “single backpack” with an attached AirTag. the Police then used the AirTag to track the suspect to North Portland.
Johnson was charged with second-degree robbery and first-degree robbery. Earlier on May 9, Apple AirTag helped recover $7,000 worth of camera gear in Australia. However, trackers continue to be controversial as some try to use them to track others. This is an issue that has captured the attention of legislators.
Ohio enacts 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 use the tracker for more nefarious purposes. In February, 3News reported an incident involving an Akron woman whose car was being tracked by AirTag. It was the AirTag alert that alerted her and prompted her to seek assistance from the Akron police. After inspecting his car, police found an AirTag in the rear bumper of his car.
Due to the potential danger this could cause, there have been calls for laws restricting the use of AirTags. In Ohio, there has also been serious lobbying by lawmakers with support from Democrats and Republicans. Through 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 application on someone else’s property without their consent.” Pennsylvania is also working to address the problem within its state, introducing legislation that would criminalize the misuse of AirTags.
Apple has also worked 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.