While some guides to finding AirTags recommend using Bluetooth scanners, Galperin does not consider this method to be reliable for tracker searching. “I have tried using various Bluetooth scanners in order to detect AirTags, and they do not work all the time,” she says.
Millions of Americans still do not own a smartphone. Without a device on hand, you must rely on visual and audible clues to find any hidden AirTags. The circular white disc is slightly larger than a quarter. As reported by The New York TimesAshley Estrada discovered an AirTag lodged under her license plate, and her video documenting the incident was viewed over 20 million times on TikTok.
When the AirTag was first released, the tracker would emit a beeping noise if away from the owner for longer than three days. Apple has since shortened the time to 24 hours or less. Despite the update, you might not want to rely only on sound to detect AirTags. Numerous videos on YouTube offer DIY instructions to disable the speaker, and noiseless versions of the trackers were even listed for a short time on Etsy.
What if I Find One?
The best way to disable an AirTag is to remove the battery. To do this, flip the AirTag so the metallic side with an Apple logo is facing you. Press down on the logo and turn counterclockwise. Now you will be able to remove the cover and pop out that battery.
Apple’s support page for the AirTag suggests reaching out to the police if you believe you are in a dangerous situation. “If you feel your safety is at risk, contact your local law enforcement, who can work with Apple to request information related to the item,” the support page reads. “You might need to provide the AirTag, AirPods, Find My network accessory, and the device’s serial number.” One way to figure out the serial number is to hold the top of an iPhone or other near-field-communication-enabled smartphone to the white side of an AirTag. A website with the serial number will pop up.
This page may also include a partial phone number from the person who owns the tracking device. If you feel hesitant about scanning the AirTag or do not have the ability, a serial number is printed on the device beneath the battery.
Who Does This Affect?
In the viral stories shared online and in police reports, women are often the victims of AirTag stalking, but Galperin cautions against framing unwanted tracking as solely an issue for women. “I have been working with victims of tech-enabled abuse for many years,” she says, “and I would say that about two-thirds of the survivors that come to me are women. But a third of them are men. I suspect that number would be higher if there wasn’t such a stigma around being an abuse victim or survivor.”
She emphasized how men, women, and nonbinary people can all be victims of abuse, as well as perpetrators. “When we paint it all with this really broad brush, we make it really hard for victims who don’t fit that mold to come forward,” says Galperin.
For more resources, you can visit the website for the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Contact the hotline by calling 1-800-799-7233 or texting “START” to 88788.