HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — They’re about the size of a quarter, but their value is anything but small change to those of us who tend to lose treasured and expensive items. AirTags can help you find keys, backpacks, luggage — even pets.
Local cases involving AirTags have shown us the darker side of politics, identity theft and even more sinister purposes — like stalking.
Chris Torre’s campaign was a long shot to begin with — running for Board of Supervisors in Isle of Wight as a write-in candidate.
But someone was determined to make Torre an even longer shot.
“We alerted the police because several signs had gone stolen and we wanted it to stop,” said Leah Walker, one of Torre’s campaign volunteers. “So we put the AirTag into a couple of the signs that we thought were most prone to getting stolen.”
A couple of days later, the home of Torre’s opponent, Renee Rountree, was pinging the AirTag.
The signs were found under her home in the crawlspace.
“She shouldn’t have done that. It was a dirty trick,” Torre told 10 On Your Side.
Police say Rountree claimed her son-in law-took the signs as a prank. Rountree declined an interview, but said in a statement she’s cooperating with Smithfield Police and has refuted the allegations, calling the situation “unfortunate.”
Rountree was charged with receiving stolen goods, her son-in-law with larceny.
“It’s mean-spirited, it’s not what we should do as a nation,” Walker said. “And certainly not what we should do in Smithfield, Virginia.”
Ramin Fatehi, the Commonwealth’s Attorney in Norfolk, said the evidence from an AirTag is pretty cut and dried.
“It’s very helpful for us as prosecutors,” Fatehi said, “because no one has to take an AirTag’s word for where it was.”
Back in September, an AirTag helped to convict two men of credit card fraud in Norfolk.
They pleaded guilty to stealing a wallet with $130 and a pair of credit cards. Kendrick Wright got two years in prison, Avery White is awaiting sentencing, and the case against a third defendant is pending.
“The technology doesn’t lie,” Fatehi said. “It doesn’t have credibility issues or memory issues the way human beings sometimes do.”
The Apple AirTags run about $25 and are sold in four-packs. You can attach them to — or tuck them into — cars, bikes, pets, backpacks, luggage, key chains, pretty much anything you might lose.
Or, get stolen.
AirTags do not use GPS to track — they tap into nearby Apple devices, tying together iPhones and iPads into one giant network through iCloud.
And check out this third recent case: a cashier was fired from Wegmans in Town Center Virginia Beach after police say he tried to use an AirTag to track a customer to their home. Police said Connor Land, 20, tried to give an AirTag to a child because he was allegedly attracted to her mother.
Land pleaded guilty to misdemeanor unauthorized use of a tracking device. He’s appealing his active sentence of more than five months in jail.
But Fatehi has a warning though about AirTags. He cautions people to not try to be the police — it can carry the potential for a lot of danger and a lot of violence. Fatehi said to give your tracking info to the police and let them handle it.