Beware: Thieves Use Tracking Devices to Steal Collector Cars!

With the advent of new technology that creates societal benefits, many times there are unintended consequences and abuses.  In this case, the same tracking devices that you can place on your children, pets and property are also being used by organized thieves to mount on your collector car or truck in a discreet location.  These criminals prefer trackers are small, have a range of 250 feet or more, can be easily camouflaged, are motion-only activated, have have a battery life of several days and a low or no monthly access fee.

Targeted vehicles can be spotted on public parking lots, car shows or cruises by thieves.  Crooks place the trackers on the underside of the vehicle, inside wheel wells, gas doors or trailer hitches for example.  Or worse, if they have access to an interior, place it under your seat. These devices are either magnetic or can be attached with velcro or tape. Once motion is detected from your vehicle, the tracker sends a GPS signal or a ping to the thief’s cell phone to as to the location of your garage or (better for them) your driveway.  Upon learning your home address, they can case your neighborhood and install outdoor, motion-sensing cameras to surveil your home to discover when you are not at home.  Then when you are away, these bandits employ conventional methods to break into your car to steal it. 

There are many tracking devices on the market, but the Apple AirTag is currently the most commonly used trackers. The size of a quarter (as pictured), it is inexpensive ($29) and pings off other iphones in the area.  But other devices such as Tile, Tracki ($30), Vynks ($79 with no monthly fee), Primetracking and several others can be utilized. Read more on covert trackers.

Car Thieves Use AirTags

Apple AirTag Courtesy of PCMag

How can you prevent crooks from stealing your collector car?  1) Look out for a suspicious person looking at your car closely in the lower areas.  Try not to leave your car or truck unattended if possible.  Otherwise ask the owner of the car parked next to yours or fellow car club member to look over from time-to-time.  2) Before driving off, perform a walk around inspection to include your vehicle’s obscure areas.  A telescopic mirror or creeper to go under raised trucks can be a huge help.  3) If you have an Apple iphone, do not ignore notifications that an AirTag is nearby.  (Apple is also working on detection of AirTags on android phones.).  Here are more tips to find a hidden GPS tracker.

Should you discover any tracking device, take action: report it immediately to local police.

4) Here are more obvious protection measures as recommended by law enforcement: secure your vehicle in a locked garage, position a steering wheel lock such as the Club, install a lock on the data port, and invest in surveillance equipment.  5) Finally although your own AirTag can be pinged on the thief’s phone, by hiding it inside your car, it will be harder for the crook to pinpoint its location. 

Remember “time is of the essence” for criminals.  Its a shame that we need to resort to being more careful today, but the steps we take are crucial to avoid preventable theft of your dream vehicle. The more time-consuming and difficult for a thief to steal your vehicle, the less likely it will occur and greater the opportunity for any foolish bandit to be caught.