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Photographer tracks down $10K of stolen gear

A story is doing the rounds about an Australian photographer who tracked down $10K of stolen gear using an Apple AirTag, a coin-sized tracking device.

The Apple AirTag is clipped onto the camera strap. Source: 9News/Graham Tait.

The viral news story, first published by 9News and picked up by the photo and tech media, reads suspiciously like advertorial content. If it isn’t then Sydney-based photographer, Graham Tait, who was travelling through the South Australian Flinders Rangers when his gear was stolen, deserves a a free bag of goodies courtesy of Apple for the free marketing.

Here’s how 9News covered the incident:

‘”My car was broken into whilst we were travelling in the Flinders Ranges last night and they took a laptop bag and camera – both of which had AirTags fitted,” Tait said.

Fortunately for Tait, he remembered he had an Apple AirTag attached to several of the items which were stolen. An Apple AirTag is a small coin-sized device which emits a Bluetooth signal that is picked up by almost every Apple device in the world.

So if you don’t have your item with you and it has an Apple AirTag attached, every single iPhone, iPad and Mac becomes part of the search party for your item.

Comes off like a bit of a sales pitch, no?

Anyway, Tait’s gear was stolen from his parked car out the front of a hotel. Among the stolen gear was his wallet and GoPro, along with a Sony RX10 IV and laptop which had the AirTags attached to them.

‘I used the Find My app and tracked the missing items down to a room in the hotel we are staying in,’ he said.

Police then apprehended the individual who allegedly stole the gear, and Tait retrieved his lost items.

Apple unveiled the AirTag in 2021. It works by attaching the small disc to important items – such as keys, wallets, or a camera – and it connects via Bluetooth to an iOS or macOS device. The AirTag features built-in speakers to play an alarm if an item is lost and out of sight but somewhere close by, such as sunken between the crevasse of couch cushions.

Apple isn’t exactly the leading innovator with the AirTag. There are a plethora of other tracking device products, such as the Samsung SmartTag, Tile trackers, or Orbit. They all perform similar tracking functions, and some have been around for longer than the AirTag.

Despite photographers calling for camera brands to include in-built tracking features, they do not yet include this function. It’s unfortunate, especially when cameras are expensive and often targetted during theft.

So it’s certainly worth considering buying one of these nifty devices in case gear is stolen, or for those prone to losing their keys or wallet. They typically retail for under $100.

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