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After the Columbia County case, learn what to do if you think an Apple AirTag is tracking you

After a Grovetown woman discovered an Apple AirTag in her car, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office is providing more information about what locals should do if they suspect they are being tracked by an AirTag.

The 39-year-old woman called the sheriff’s office on May 16 because she received a notification on her phone that an AirTag was nearby and that it might be tracking her, according to an incident report.

The woman said she followed the signal to a spot in her car near the seat belt anchorage in the third row, the report said.

She told officers that starting in December 2023, she had received multiple notifications on her phone that she had dismissed without checking them, the report said. Finally, she decided to go to the sheriff’s office to have her vehicle checked.

Officers found the AirTag and it ultimately turned out to be a family member’s device that they had accidentally left in the car, the sheriff’s office said.

Following the incident, a Columbia County Sheriff’s Office investigator provided some tips for locals who may suspect they are being tracked with an Apple AirTag:

AirTag tracking is not very common

Investigator Philip Clark said the CCSO Criminal Investigations Division receives only about half a dozen cases involving an AirTag each year that make it all the way to investigators.

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“AirTags are not one of the best ways to track the audience,” Clark said. “If it doesn’t reach Bluetooth, it won’t tell you where it is. For example, if you put an AirTag in someone’s bookbag and take that bookbag somewhere where it never pings via Bluetooth, it will never signal you a location for it .They’re not really good for tracking and people don’t use them for that much.

An Apple AirTag sits on a car seat in Augusta, Georgia.

An Apple AirTag sits on a car seat in Augusta, Georgia.

How to find an AirTag after being alerted that it is nearby

Clark said most AirTags make a small beeping or beeping sound, making them easy to find.

“I had one person who kept hearing it beeping in the back of her car and we found it in the plastic compartment in the trunk of the SUV,” he said. “We’ve found them in satchels, vehicles – we find them in all kinds of places.”

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However, Clark said just because someone receives a notification that someone is nearby does not mean it will be used to track them.

“I had a recent case where someone moved into an apartment complex and got a notification that there was an AirTag near them,” he said. “It might not even be someone following you, it might be that the AirTag just picked up your Bluetooth. If you’re shopping in a store and someone has an AirTag and your Bluetooth is on, they’ll turn on the Bluetooth on you Pick up your phone and your phone will tell you there is an AirTag near you.”

The best way to determine if the AirTag is tracking someone’s movement is to check if the distance changes.

“Once it tells you there’s an AirTag and it stays nearby, it sometimes tells you how many meters away it is from your phone so you can track if it’s moving [with you]Clark said. “There’s also an alert where you can set the AirTag to leave so it makes noise and you can find it.”

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What to do if you think you are being tracked with an AirTag

If someone is concerned they are being tracked or receiving repeated notifications on their phone, Clark said to call the sheriff’s office for help finding it.

“If you can’t find it, call us and let us come out there and at least look for it and get a report done,” he said. “Even if you find it, call us because every AirTag has its own unique serial number and we can get the serial number, subpoena Apple and they will tell us who bought, registered and tracked that AirTag. Definitely call us if you think someone is trying to track you and we can get the serial number and find out who’s doing it.”

This article originally appeared on Augusta Chronicle: What to do if you think you’re being tracked by an Apple AirTag

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