A photographer in Australia has been able to recover more than $10,000 worth of stolen camera kit, thanks to well-placed Apple Air Tags. Graham Tait got extremely lucky as the thief didn’t notice the Bluetooth tracking device attached to his gear, meaning that he was able to inform the authorities who safely returned it to him.
As a photographer, I can’t think of anything worse than having my kit stolen. Losing it or breaking it of your own accord is one thing, but having someone take it from you is a different ball game. Just in case it does ever happen, it’s worth investing in the best camera insurance (opens in new tab) for your photography kit so you’re covered if the unthinkable happens. You’ll still have to wait while the insurance company sorts it out and you’ll likely have to pay a hefty excess, but at least you won’t have to replace everything using your own money.
• Discover the best professional cameras (opens in new tab)
Fortunately for Tait, he didn’t have to go down the insurance route. The thief was too preoccupied to notice the Apple Air Tags attached to his camera kit, which included a GoPro, a Sony RX10 (opens in new tab), his laptop and his wallet.
According to PetaPixel (opens in new tab), the incident took place at a hotel car park in Southern Australia where the Sydney-based photographer was on holiday. As soon as Tait realized this, he was able to track down the equipment with the Find My app and get in contact with the authorities who arrested the alleged perpetrator.
Apple AirTags work by sending a Bluetooth signal to nearby devices in the Find My Network. These devices then send the location of your AirTag to iCloud and, when you go into the Find My app, it's displayed on a map. In order for the precision finding mode to work, you will need an iPhone 11 (opens in new tab) or newer – but as long as you're running iOS 14.5 or above, you should be able to get an approximate location of your missing items.
• Best Bluetooth trackers: Apple AirTags vs Tile vs others (opens in new tab)
Even though in Tait’s case Apple AirTags have been used for their purpose, it is becoming increasingly common for them to be used by criminals to track down cars to steal or even more frighteningly, to stalk women. Earlier this year, a young mother found an Apple AirTag that didn’t belong to her as she traveled from Texas to Maine, while another in Atlanta was notified there was an AirTag in her car which she was unable to locate.
Sometimes theft is unavoidable, but if you can, try not to keep expensive kit unattended in your car. When traveling on public transport, ensure it’s attached to you and be cautious when traveling in countries where pickpocketing is extremely common. Most camera theft stories don’t have a happy ending but it's nice to know that this one did. Apple Air tags start at just $/£29 for a single tag or $/£99 for a set of four, so it could be well worth the investment.