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Suspect uses Apple AirTag to pursue victim in Montgomery County, police say – NBC10 Philadelphia

Police say a person used an Apple AirTag to pursue a victim in Montgomery County, the latest incident in a disturbing nationwide trend of criminals using the popular tracking device.

On Friday at 8:44 p.m., the victim told police they had just returned to their home in Lower Providence after visiting Movie Tavern in Upper Providence Township when they received a message on their iPhone from Apple.

The message read: "Unknown accessories found - this item has been moving with you for a while."

When the victim entered their home, they looked at their phone again and received another message that read: "Security Warning, your current location can be seen by the owner of this item. You may be carrying this item, or it may be located If this item is not known to you, you can disable it and stop sharing your location. "

The victim then received a map of the area showing that the device at. 19.19 that night were activated near Movie Tavern and then traveled with the victim until they returned to their home at. 20.38.

The victim then looked out of their windshield and spotted an unknown vehicle sitting just down the road outside the home. As the victim approached the car, it slowly drove away. As the vehicle was driving away, the victim received another message on their phone that the device was traveling in an eastbound direction before being interrupted when the vehicle was out of sight.

Police described the vehicle as an older model, light gray or silver hatchback, possibly a Subaru.

Investigators later found that an Apple AirTag was used on the victim's vehicle.

AirTags are tracking devices created by Apple last year, which are usually the size of a quarter. The devices are relatively inexpensive and a popular way for Apple users to keep track of their belongings, such as keys and wallets. Law enforcement officials say criminals are now using the device to pursue victims or track down vehicles they want to steal.

"The battery life of an Apple Air Tag can last for more than a year before it needs to be replaced," a spokesman for the Lower Providence Police Department wrote. "Although Apple Air Tags are designed to counteract unwanted tracking, it can still occur. We urge everyone to be vigilant about their surroundings, and if you receive a notification like the one reported in this incident, please contact us immediately. call 9-1-1. "

If you have information about Friday's incident, call the Lower Providence Township Police Department at (610) 539-5901.

What should you do if you find yourself being tracked by an Apple AirTag?

"Law enforcement experts say you should not go home - it could reveal where you live for the bad guys," NBC News senior consumer research correspondent Vicky Nguyen told Today Show.

Apple's AirTag product page says the device "is designed to counteract unwanted tracking." For example, your iPhone will ping you if it turns out that an unrecognized AirTag device moves with you over time. If the warning goes unnoticed, the AirTag itself will eventually start making a sound.

"We take customer safety very seriously and are committed to AirTag's privacy and security," the company said in a statement. "AirTag is designed with a set of proactive features to counter unwanted tracking - the first in the industry - that both informs users if an unknown AirTag may be with them and discourages bad actors from using an AirTag for sinister purposes."

Don't have an iPhone? Apple released an app for Android users that allows people to scan for AirTags. Android owners can download the Tracker Detect app from the Google Play Store.

Unlike iPhones, however, Android phones will not automatically alert you to the presence of AirTags; users should actively open and use the Tracker Detect app if they suspect they are being tracked.

Parts of this story first appeared on TODAY.com.

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