NYPD officials are warning of the threat of police attacks after an Apple AirTag tracking device was discovered under the hood of a marked police vehicle in Queens.
According to the department, the device — which connects to Apple’s “Find My” network — was found in a small plastic bag under the hood of the patrol car.
NYPD officials are now warning officers about the use of such devices to track vehicles after a spike in recent attacks against police in the city and across the country.
“Please keep a heightened state of vigilance, in light of the anti-police sentiment we have seen not only here, but across the U.S.,” NYPD Chief of Housing Martine Materasso wrote in an email to the department.
Materasso reminded officers to keep a lookout for such devices while inspecting the vehicle.
Officers are supposed to inspect their vehicles before and after patrol tours.
AirTags have been used by criminals in the past to track cars in order to steal them or to stalk victims.
Apple said they have been working with law enforcement to avoid “unwanted tracking” through the devices.
“AirTag was designed to help people locate their personal belongings, not to track people or another person’s property, and we condemn in the strongest possible terms any malicious use of our products,” Apple said in a statement in February. “Unwanted tracking has long been a societal problem, and we took this concern seriously in the design of AirTag.”
The company further explained how perpetrators could be identified through the use of the devices.
“Every AirTag has a unique serial number, and paired AirTags are associated with an Apple ID. Apple can provide the paired account details in response to a subpoena or valid request from law enforcement. We have successfully partnered with them on cases where the information we provided has been used to trace an AirTag back to the perpetrator, who was then apprehended and charged.”