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Man gets stolen bike back, suspect gets arrested thanks to Apple AirTag

In an extremely rare recovery, Frank Kortyka was able to use technology to trace his stolen bike to an apartment complex where police executed a search warrant.

DENVER — A hidden Apple AirTag on his bike made for an easy recovery for Frank Kortyka after it was stolen at a coffee shop. 

The incident happened when Kortyka was checking email with his Specialized bike parked just feet away from him at a coffee shop near Colorado Boulevard and East 40th Avenue last month. 

“And maybe a few minutes go by and I look up and it’s gone,” Kortyka said, adding he should have locked up his bike but didn’t think it was necessary because it was in eyesight. 

Quickly, Kortyka was able to trace his bike to a nearby apartment complex thanks to an Apple AirTag he had hidden on the bike. 

AirTags don’t use GPS but are able to mark their relatively precise locations online by using the signals of surrounding cell phones.

Apartment management played security video for Kortyka which showed a man entering with his bike and then walking into a specific unit. 

About an hour later, police arrived and executed a search warrant after Kortyka was able to show police the precise location of the AirTag and play a sound from the device that could be heard from just outside the unit. 

“It’s honestly pretty amazing that it kind of worked exactly as it was supposed to,” Kortyka said. 

Documents in the case obtained by 9NEWS reveal a 31-year-old suspect has been arrested on a felony theft charge. 

The recovery of a stolen bike in Denver is extremely rare. 

So far this year, out of the 569 reported stolen bikes in Denver, police recovered only 13 of them and made 8 arrests. 

Online, a search of news articles reveals other similar stories of people using AirTags to fight back against bike thieves. 

Police stress people should call law enforcement instead of trying to recover their own property. 

“If someone has their bicycle stolen and has a tracker that has the location, do not confront them. We advise they call police and provide all the information possible so an officer can respond and potentially recover the bicycle,” a police spokesperson said over email.

Kortyka said he’s happy with the recovery and said the incident is a reminder to keep close watch. 

“It's good to keep track of your stuff, you know, don't let your guard down with it. But, you know, had I simply put a lock on it when it was right there, it might have saved some of the inconvenience,” Kortyka said. 

If you have any information about this story or would like to send a news tip, you can contact jeremy@9news.com

More reporting by Jeremy Jojola:

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