A carpenter used Apple AirTags to find his stolen tools — along with 15,000 others (video)

A 43-year-old carpenter in Virginia was fed up after someone broke into his van and stole his tools, not once but twice. So he decided to slip Apple AirTags into a bunch of his larger tools that he still had left, in case the thieves returned for a third time — which they did.

And the AirTags paid off.

Not only was he — with the help of police — able to track down his stolen tools to a storage unit, but also around 15,000 other tools that had been pilfered from local businesses, cars, homes, and fellow carpenters by a ring of thieves. (See video of the extraordinary amount of recovered tools below, posted by Howard County Police Department.)

Piles upon piles of pinched tools — including "saws, drills, sanders, grinders, generators, batteries, air compressors and other portable (meaning easily stealable) construction equipment" — were found in 12 different locations, mostly in Howard County but also in Virginia, with an estimated worth of between $3 million – $5 million, according to police via The Washington Post.

Although police are investigating several suspects, no one has yet been arrested.

From The Washington Post:

On Jan. 22, after a third break-in and theft, the carpenter said, he drove around D.C.'s Maryland suburbs for hours, following an intermittent blip on his iPhone, until he arrived at a storage facility in Howard County. He called police, who got a search warrant, and what they found in the locker was far more than just one contractor's nail guns and miter saws. …

"One of the largest theft cases not only in Howard County but in this region," Police Chief Gregory Der told reporters recently, standing in a county warehouse where the reclaimed loot is piled neatly along walls and stacked high on shelves. "The scope of the investigation is enormous and ongoing," the chief said, adding, "We believe the tools were stolen from retail stores, businesses, vehicles, residential properties and construction sites."

Though none of the prolific thieves has been arrested yet, Der said, "we are investigating several suspects for their roles in this massive theft scheme and expect charges soon." …

Der said detectives have identified about 80 victims so far, "and we believe there are hundreds if not thousands more." Police created an online form for people to fill out if they think their stolen tools might be somewhere in the piles. It asks for serial numbers, receipts, photos or any "identifying marks, initials, or numbers." Authorities declined to discuss further details of the investigation

Previously: AirTag tracks stolen Yukon from Toronto to Dubai