An Apple AirTag tracking device was discovered hidden under the hood of a New York City Police Department patrol vehicle, authorities announced on Monday.
According to the NYPD, the small Apple device was located inside a plastic baggie hidden under the hood of a marked patrol vehicle in Queens on Sunday.
New York Daily News reported that NYPD patrol vehicles are inspected before and after officers’ tours. The department’s chief of housing, Martine Materasso, informed officers to be on alert when performing inspections of marked police vehicles.
“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.,” Materasso told officers, according to the New York Daily News. “Continue looking out for each other and be safe.”
AirTags, which are the size of a coin, connect to Apple’s “Find My” app, allowing the owners to locate the tags using their iPhones. The tag is meant to keep track of small personal items, such as wallets, purses, luggage, and keys.
The company’s AirTags come equipped with “unwanted tracking alert logic,” which alerts iPhone users if someone else’s tag is found traveling with them. The tag will play a sound if it is still not located after the phone notifications.
In a February statement, Apple announced that it was working with law enforcement to prevent individuals from using AirTags for “unwanted tracking.”
“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 stated. “Unwanted tracking has long been a societal problem, and we took this concern seriously in the design of AirTag.”
Apple noted that incidents of “misuse are rare; however, each instance is one too many.”
“Every AirTag has a unique serial number, and paired AirTags are associated with an Apple ID,” the tech company added. “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 information we provided has been used to trace an AirTag back to the perpetrator, who was then apprehended and charged.”