NEW YORK (WPIX) — New York City Mayor Eric Adams unveiled a new plan Sunday to give away Apple AirTags with the hope of catching car thieves.
The Big Apple is giving away 500 Apple AirTags across the New York Police Department’s 43rd Precinct, which covers the southeast Bronx. The area has recorded 207 car thefts since the start of 2023. Most of the thefts involve Kias, Hyundais and Hondas.
Carmen Parrilla lives in Castle Hill and said on Sunday that her neighbor’s car was stolen three days before. She is hoping to receive a free AirTag.
“They come into our neighborhoods, it’s like homes at night and everybody’s sleeping,” said Parrilla. “They just do what they do and they’re very professional about it.”
The Association for Better New York is donating the AirTags, which allow a user to track their whereabouts in real-time on an iPhone.
Adams said he is trying out the technology as a new way to tackle car thefts.
“The number of grand larceny autos continues to drive up our crime in the city,” said Adams. “It gives the false sense that we’re not moving in the right direction when we are.”
“The GPS devices, thanks to ABNY, will give New Yorkers another layer of protection by first locating and tracking stolen cars that may act as a deterrent for auto thieves,” said NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell. “It also allows our officers to be more strategic while mitigating pursuits, keeping us safe and keeping the community safe.”
The NYPD said it would not be able to track the AirTags themselves.
“Once the owner realizes that their car is missing for whatever reason, they call us, and we’ll use their phone to track the vehicle,” said NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey.
Business owner Robert Cox said he has tracking devices in all his work trucks for safety reasons, but he doesn’t think AirTags are the appropriate solution for the problem.
“The city needs to do something a little bit better,” said Cox. “Start giving out stiffer jail sentences. Start getting stiff on parole. Stop letting people walk away because the crime is terrible. It’s terrible.”
The NYPD asked drivers to tuck away AirTags, keys, and valuables so they are not in plain sight in a vehicle. Drivers are also reminded to keep their cars locked with the windows up and to always park in well-lit areas.