They Aren’t Anti-Theft Devices
Apple isn’t marketing AirTags as anti-theft devices, and for valid reasons, as they’re really not suitable for this purpose.
Some have expressed concerns that it would be too easy for a thief to disable an AirTag using the Find My app, but realistically it’s probably even easier to remove the AirTag itself and just throw it away. Or remove the battery. Or take a hammer to it. High-tech solutions really aren’t needed to bypass the tracking tags.
More significantly, however, if the thief has an iPhone, the Safety Alerts will let them know that an AirTag may be concealed on a stolen item, prompting them to remove or destroy it. As AirTags get more popular, however, it’s likely that thieves will know to look for them on expensive items, in much the same way that most professional thieves already know to turn an iPhone off or stick it in a tinfoil bag to avoid tracking.
In this case, however, Apple has obviously decided it’s more important to protect people’s personal safety than to help recover stolen items, and we’d be inclined to agree. Things can be replaced. People can’t.