DC launches pilot program offering free vehicle tracking tags after carjackings skyrocket

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) announced a pilot program Wednesday morning to provide some District drivers with free tracking tags for their vehicles.

The tags, more commonly known as Apple AirTag and Tile trackers, will assist MPD in locating and recovering missing or stolen vehicles, according to a release.

Watch the press conference below:

Residents in the areas with the highest reports of carjackings will be eligible to receive tracking tags for their vehicles during three separate distribution events. Interested residents will be required to show proof of residence within selected PSAs to qualify, officials said.

Those who live in police service areas 106, 501, 502, 603, 605, and 606 can attend one of the following distribution events.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 7 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 100 I Street Southeast
  • Wednesday, Nov. 8 from 4:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at 1309 5th Street Northeast
  • Thursday, Nov. 9 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 3200 Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast, Rear Parking Lot

“These tags and tiles will help MPD recover stolen vehicles and hold people accountable,” said Bowser. “The word will also get out this is not a community to come in and steal cars.”

So far this year, MPD Chief of Police Pamela Smith said the city has seen a significant increase in the number of stolen vehicles and carjackings in the District.

“Our carjacking, motor vehicle thefts and unlawful use of vehicles are up 36% this year over last year,” she added.

The pilot initiative to distribute Apple AirTag and Tile tracking tags will be at no cost to D.C. residents.

This tracking tag distribution pilot followed MPD’s expanded wheel-lock distribution program when the District’s partnership with Hyundai this summer to upgrade over 1,100 vehicles with new anti-theft software, and the dash cam distribution program for local rideshare and mobile delivery drivers.

SEE ALSO | DC police and Hyundai launch free anti-theft mobile clinic for residents

The announcement comes on the heels of a deadly attempted carjacking in northwest D.C. over the weekend. Police said a 13-year-old was shot and killed after he attempted to carjack an off-duty federal security officer. A 12-year-old was arrested in connection with the case.

READ | 13-year-old shot, killed in attempted carjacking of off-duty federal officer in DC: Police

7News confirmed with MPD’s Carjacking Task Force that the number of such incidents in the District has eclipsed 800 cases so far this year.

“What we know is individuals that are involved in this type of criminal activity, often commit multiple offenses and a single arrest can help bring closure to multiple cases,” Smith said.

In July, D.C. Council passed a temporary emergency bill that includes a provision allowing judges to hold suspects of carjackings, including juveniles, until their trial. That bill was supposed to expire on Oct. 18, but councilmembers extended it for another 90 days.

Councilmember Brooke Pinto has cosponsored a bill that would make this measure permanent. That bill will have a public hearing on Nov. 8.

MPD currently offers a reward of up to $10,000 to anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for a violent crime committed in the District of Columbia. Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the police at 202-727-9099. Additionally, anonymous information may be submitted to the department’s TEXT TIP LINE by sending a text message to 50411.