Myrtle Beach Bar Burglar Foiled by a Stuffed Bear and an AirTag

stuffed bear Credit: Sandy Millar
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A Myrtle Beach burglar is now being held on charges of breaking into safes in multiple bars and restaurants in the Myrtle Beach area thanks to a stuffed animal that had an Apple AirTag hidden inside it.

The staff of the Sneaky Beagle, a dog-friendly tavern that had been hit by burglars multiple times, decided to set up a sting by using one of Apple’s AirTags hidden inside a stuffed bear.

WMBF News reports the Sneaky Beagle folks opened up the traditional carnival prize, shoved an AirTag inside, and then placed the now trackable stuffed ursine toy into a decoy safe.

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Staff members told the news station that while they had heard about other bar break-ins, they never thought they’d see their own broken into.

However, when kitchen manager Thomas Erskine came into work one day, he discovered the Sneaky Beagle had become a target. Erskine told WMBF News, “A window was broken or something was moved on the floor. I kinda knew something was wrong. As soon as I saw that I let the owner know and we were able to get it figured out throughout that.”

Once the bar was hit a second time, the bar staff got together and cleverly made a plan to foil the burglar.

“I think one of the guests that came in had ended up leaving a stuffed animal and we ended up putting an AirTag inside of the stuffed animal,” said Erskine. “We had two safes at that point, the dummy safe and our actual safe.”

The thief, 52-year-old Samuel Smith, took the bait, stealing the safe. The coin-shaped Apple tracking device was tracked to Smith’s home within 30 minutes of the burglary. It also helped authorities connect Smith to multiple other burglaries in the area.

Smith was arrested and is now facing nine counts of second-degree burglary over a four-month period. He is currently being held with no bond at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center

The break-ins took place at several area bars, including Handley’s, Doyle’s Pub & Grub, the Old Bull & Bush Pub and Eatery, and the Sneaky Beagle.

Apple’s AirTags have helped lead police to robbers several times since they became available in April 2021.

A Texas family quickly grew tired of their uncle’s gravesite being robbed, and hid an AirTag in a bronze memorial vase, allowing them to catch the bad actors defiling the grave. The hidden AirTag led to the arrest of the thieves responsible for stealing the vase. As a bonus, it also led police to find more than $62,000 worth of other stolen memorial vases.

In May, two Chicago men were arrested for robbing $1.1 million from a Brinks armored truck, due to being foiled by an Apple AirTag that had been secreted in the plastic money bins. Thanks to the AirTag, traffic cams, and testimony from witnesses, police traced the thieves to a residential address, where hundreds of thousands of dollars were recovered.

Last year, a Toronto man also successfully used three AirTags to lead police to his stolen Range Rover. Thieves found one of the more obviously-placed AirTags but didn’t think to look for the others, allowing police to bust a larger car theft ring in the city’s east end.

Unfortunately, Apple’s AirTags have also been used for less-than-noble purposes.

Last May, a Columbia, Tennessee family discovered that someone may have planted an AirTag to track and stalk them while visiting Disney World. The family had spent the day at the amusement park and were heading to the parking lot when the seventeen-year-old daughter received a notification on her iPhone that an AirTag was tracking their movements. More recently a Tennessee man was also jailed after being caught using an AirTag to stalk his ex-wife.

Further, police reports have revealed cases of car thieves using AirTags to help steal cars by planting them on desirable vehicles in a common location such as a mall parking lot so they can be tracked to people’s homes and later stolen under the cover of darkness.

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