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Apple’s AirTags are typically used to track items like your keys or purse. If you lose them, the AirTags can help you can find them quickly. But that’s not all they can do. As a Portland, Oregon lawyer found out, AirTags can also catch lying city contractors.
According to the Portland Tribune, city contractors were illegally disposing of the belongings they removed from homeless camps.
According to Oregon law, personal belongings removed from these campsites should be stored and not thrown away.
Belongings that are unsanitary or have no apparent use are the only items that workers can throw away.
All other items must be moved to a warehouse and kept for up to 30 days.
The homeless in some of these camps accused the city of throwing away their valuables. Lawyer Michael Fuller, who has fought legally on behalf of the homeless community, had an ingenious way to validate their claims.
Fuller knew the city would soon clear the tents at a homeless campsite in Laurelhurst Park, Portland. But before the contractors could dismantle the tent city, Fuller attached the Apple AirTag trackers to 16 different personal items.
After the clean-up crew left, Fuller tracked the items and found that some ended up at the Recology Oregon waste transfer station. These items included a pair of gloves, a french press coffee maker, and two canvas paintings.
Ironically, the same workers who illegally dumped the items may have helped Fuller find them. AirTags have a positioning feature that uses nearby iPhones to locate the trackers. When an iPhone encounters a tracker, it silently and seamlessly reports that tracker’s position. Little did the workers know, their personal iPhones likely turned them in.