Live in Washington D.C.? You might be able to get free AirTags for your car

The city of Washington D.C. will distribute free Apple AirTags to residents in certain neighborhoods, mayor Muriel Bowser announced on Wednesday. The aim: to make stolen cars easier for police to track down.

“We are equipping residents with technology that will allow the [Metropolitan Police Department] to address these crimes, recover vehicles, and hold people accountable,” Bowser said in a statement, “we will continue to use all the tools we have, and add new tools, to keep our city safe.” Local publication DCist first reported the story.

D.C. residents in neighborhoods with the highest numbers of vehicle theft will be eligible to get free AirTags at three different events in the city over the next few months, starting next week. It’s not clear how many AirTags, which cost $29 a pop, will be given away.

Police officers will help residents put the AirTags in their cars and register them on their iPhones. If a car is stolen, residents will need to report the location of the car as it appears in Apple’s FindMy app to law enforcement.

D.C. is the second city to hand out free AirTags to make finding car thieves easier. Earlier this year, New York City mayor Eric Adams announced that the city would give away 500 AirTags to make finding car thieves easier. Since then the NYPD has held several AirTag and Tile tracker giveaways, focusing on Kia and Hyundai owners, though it’s unclear if these come from the same supply announced by the mayor.

AirTags, which Apple released in 2021, have often sparked controversy. Critics have said that they let stalkers track victims silently without their knowledge — a safety issue Apple eventually addressed. But the devices have also been useful, letting people keep track of pets, checked baggage and stolen campaign signs.

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