A family in Orange County, California, recently managed to recover a stolen e-bike thanks to an Apple AirTag they placed on the bike.
Johnny Ehrman, who relies on the $3,000 bike for daily transportation, was devastated when the bike was stolen outside her workplace.
“I drive [the bike] like 12 miles a day,” Ehrman told FOX 11. “I was sobbing outside my workplace. I actually had some of my co-workers be like, ‘What’s happening? Where is your bike?’”
According to Ehrman, she had left the pedals and wheel locked and removed the battery, but forgot to lock the bike onto a fixed object. Fortunately, she had previously placed an AirTag tracking device, which costs a mere $29, on the bike.
Ehrman called 9-1-1 upon discovering the theft, and then she and her father, David, checked the AirTag’s location on her iPhone.
“She notified the sheriffs of the new location and how long ago it pinged there,” David told ABC7. “The sheriffs were taking a report. They sent a whole bunch of officers to that area and started flooding the area.”
But when deputies knocked on the door near the AirTag’s last known location, the person inside denied knowing anything about the bike, David said. After the deputies departed, the Ehrmans saw the AirTag showing that the bike was on the move again, so David decided to take matters into his own hands.
He followed the signal to an apartment complex near their home, where he found a man holding a grinder, a tool commonly used to cut through bike locks, and Johnny’s bike with the U-lock still attached.
“I grab the bike and then I just basically turn around and I walked away,” David said. “Didn’t even think about anything happening to me because as a determined dad, I wanted that bike back and I wanted it bad.”
The thief appeared to be stunned, he added. “The dude just stood there with the look on his face, like I’ve never seen anyone with that look. I think the look was shock. Like, ‘How did you get my location?’”
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office did not release the name of the thief, but a spokesperson reminded residents to leave the recovery of stolen items to law enforcement to avoid potentially deadly situations.
“As much as the convenience of technology plays a vital role in the quality of our lives, we want to remind our communities to utilize their local law enforcement services when they’ve been victimized by a crime instead of placing themselves into harm’s way,” the spokesperson said. “If you become a victim of a property crime involving a GPS device, notify your local police department and inform them of the incident…. As emotionally challenging as it can be when criminally violated, our highest priority is your personal safety.”
Indeed, earlier this month, a man in San Antonio also used the Apple device to track down his stolen vehicle, and ended up shooting and killing the thief during a confrontation.