Police Want Permission to Find Your Stolen Car With Your AirTags

With auto thefts hitting all-time highs, police are stepping up their response.

byLewin Day|
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Once upon a time, the only way to hunt down a stolen car was to hit the bricks and hope to spot it in public. These days, a wide array of devices are available to help you track down your car remotely, most recently, however, Apple AirTags. Denver police are hoping to use these tools to help fight the scourge of auto theft in the city.

As reported by CBS News, the Denver Police Department is seeking consent to track residents' cars in the event they are stolen. The DPD is calling for those with tracking devices fitted to their cars to register their consent to tracking with the department itself. The program targets both manufacturer-installed tracking systems, as well as aftermarket GPS trackers, and AirTags. It follows from a similar program started by police in Illinois last year.

The department claims the new "DenverTrack" system will aid in the speedy tracking and recovery of stolen vehicles. The key to the program is having consent forms from affected vehicle owners on file and ready to go. The aim is to use these forms to quickly gain access to real-time location data from car manufacturers, which maintain tracking services through systems like GM's OnStar and Stellantis's Uconnect. Historically, police departments have cited struggles in gaining timely access to live tracking data, as automakers are somewhat careful to protect a driver's privacy in the absence of express written consent from owners.

The move comes amidst a backdrop of soaring auto theft in the state of Colorado. Police estimate over 40,000 vehicles were stolen in 2022, an increase of 12% compared to the previous year.

According to the DPD, police will only access tracking data once a vehicle has been reported as stolen, and verbal authorization will be obtained prior to tracking. Owners who register their vehicle's tracking device will receive stickers to place on their vehicle, indicating it can be readily tracked by police. The stickers are intended to work as a deterrent to any potential car thieves.

The program is open to residents of the City of Denver and those that work in the area. Owners can register online on the DenverTrack website. Alternatively, registration can also be done in person at Denver Police Department stations.

Denver police hope that the program will encourage owners to contact the department to recover their stolen vehicles, rather than using GPS trackers to take matters into their own hands. "Do not go find your own stolen car. Work with the police department and we will help you safely recover your vehicle," said Ryan Harris, an officer with the Denver Police Department.

With Colorado standing as the number one state in the nation for auto theft, it's no surprise police are looking for new tools to tackle the problem. Whether the new program will deter thieves remains to be seen.

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