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AirTag leads to confrontation & stolen e-bike return in California


A California family recovered a stolen e-bike using AirTag, by tracking the vehicle directly to the thief's house.

Johnny Ehrman of Orange County discovered her e-bike had been stolen in March. The e-bike was an essential tool for her, used as transport to and from work, school, and other locations.

"I drive like 12 miles a day," Ehrman said to Fox 11 LA. "I was sobbing outside my workplace. I actually had some of my coworkers be like, What's happening? Where is your bike?"

However, the family had the forward planning to attach an AirTag to the $3,000 e-bike, which helped with the recovery. After reporting the theft to the police, the AirTag was tracked down to an apartment near to where they lived.

Father David Ehrman visited the location of the e-bike, and had a "brief confrontation" with the would-be thief.

"I yelled, 'Dude I am grabbing my daughters bike,' boom and I hightailed right out of there," David said. "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." he added "Like 'How did you get my location?'"

The Sheriff's department advised to the public that it is best for law enforcement to recover stolen items, for their own safety.

"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," said a police spokesperson.

The response to AirTag location information by police started poor, but is improving. It took about a year for law enforcement to reliably consider that information from a victim, and it still can depend on how tech savvy the department in question is.

A previous attempt to recover a stolen vehicle tracked by AirTag in April ended fatally, after the suspected thief was shot in the stolen truck by the vehicle's owners. Meanwhile, in August 2022, a New York Man ended up with a broken nose after motorbike thieves beat him up.