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Apple's AirTags have had a short and controversial life.
For every good use, there seems one that's very much for the worse -- stalking people, for example.
Two recent stories show how, even for the simplest uses, AirTags don't -- by themselves -- necessarily solve the problem.
The first may feel familiar. As airlines and airports behave as if they're entirely free of planning, staff, management, and even basic honesty, more and more travelers have resorted to placing AirTags inside their luggage.
The logic is understandable: the airline likely won't know where the luggage is, but the owners will.
The latest charming tale is of Jenny Antunes. In a TikTok post, she described how her boyfriend's red suitcase was left behind in Toronto. They used an AirTag to track how it went on vacation to many quite scenic, parts of Portugal.
The suitcase seemed to spend several days at the beach, a day at some stranger's house and sometimes in a warehouse before, five days later, appearing at an actual airport.
A happy ending, you might think, especially as it got a spirited amount of social media adoration. Who wouldn't want more than 67,000 likes? Still, this is a story currently being repeated across so many parts of North America and, indeed, the world.
But the AirTag, in itself, isn't a total solution to every mishap.
Stephen Herbert had his motorbike stolen in New York. He'd been wise enough to attach an AirTag to it.
You must decide how wise he was to then go to the location -- a Brooklyn deli -- in order to retrieve it. What could possibly go wrong at a Brooklyn deli?
Well, as the New York Daily News described it, Herbert tried to get his bike back. He got it. It was two in the afternoon.
The thieves, it seems, weren't happy about the rightful owner stealing back the bike they'd stolen. Not long after Herbert had resecured possession, the thieves found him, attacked him and left him with a broken nose.
It's one thing to know where your possessions are. It's another to think you can instantly get them back, especially if they've been stolen.
Also: This accessory lets you add an AirTag to your Apple TV remote
Indeed, Herbert himself offered: "I think a lot about it; if he had a gun, I could be dead. I think about how stupid I was to confront someone, and maybe my life was ruined in a much more serious way."
In Antunes' situation, patience and perseverance will get results. As it did for army spouse Valerie McNulty, who didn't trust her movers and used an AirTag to track her luggage -- and therefore their lies -- as it appeared in various parts of America, different parts from the ones she'd been told.
But if you use an AirTag to find your stolen property, the first step is to call the police. Instinctively, many people know this. Equally instinctively, however, many people feel the urge to retrieve their property without considering the potential consequences immediately.
Please resist that urge.
As Herbert himself observed: "I definitely walked around the neighborhood with an aura of comfort, and I don't anymore, and I definitely don't feel safe. Can't pretend we live in a safe town."
Technology can only take you so far, however alluring its effectiveness might be.
I want to end in a positive spirit, though. Technology can sometimes offer surprising fixes for lost items. Why, an American Airlines passenger says he was told by the airline that it hadn't a clue where his luggage was.
Suddenly, he remembered he'd put his iPad inside his bag. Thanks to his Find My app, he discovered where the bag was and said he even had to walk an American Airlines employee to it in order to prove his, um, case.
One day, airlines will be as enterprising as their customers. One day.