English, Fake News

Rumours of Criminals Giving out Trackable Key Chains to People to Rob Them is an Old Hoax


Several images of key rings are being shared online claiming that criminals at petrol stations and shopping centres are giving them for free which enables them to track and rob the victims. Let’s verify the claim made in the post.

Claim: Criminals are giving out free key rings to people at petrol stations and shopping centres which enables them to track and rob people.

Fact: This is an old hoax which started in 2008 when Caltex company started giving flashing key rings to their customers as a part of brand promotion in South Africa. The local police and Caltex both refuted these claims. Since then, the same rumour has been in circulation without any evidence. Hence, the claim made in the post is FALSE.

We searched the internet with relevant keywords and came across a news article with the title “Caltex hit by Urban myth”, published on 30 August 2008 by a South Africa based news website ‘Independent Online’.

According to this article, these rumours started in 2008 when Caltex, a petroleum brand name of Chevron Corporation started giving free Caltex branded key rings to their customers at fuel stations. These key rings contain a flashing device which is meant to highlight brand name.

Caltex branded key ring. Source: Snopes

During that time, several emails started circulating online warning people of alleged tracking devices inside key rings. However, police spokesperson Superintendent Vincent Mdunge said such claims were untrue and police were investigating the origin of such e-mails. Caltex spokesperson Miranda Anthony assured the customers that these key rings do not have a tracking device in them. When the same rumour resurfaced later in Mayalsia in 2016, the Malaysian police issued a statement that it is untrue and police had not received any reports on this matter, reported New Strait Times.

Further, we found that the tracker key rings  seen in the viral post are available online which costs around ₹150 and works with Bluetooth technology typically within 10 metres range and is generally useful to find lost keys at home.

To sum it up, rumours of criminals giving out trackable key chains to people in order to rob them is an old hoax.


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