Mystery Car Theft Device Will Unlock Your Doors, Disable Your Alarm In Seconds
Traditionally, law enforcement officers have told you to park your car in busy areas or secure garages. They’ve told you that car thieves look for an easy target over a valuable one. We’ve even dispensed some of that advice ourselves in the not-too-distant past.
But a new mystery car theft device, active in all major cities from New York to Los Angeles, may have everyone rethinking traditional wisdom.
A recent news report from CNN caught the device in action numerous times. But video evidence aside, police and car manufacturers are virtually clueless as to how “the box” works and what can be done to stop it. https://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=l7OadDz3Ums
What we do know just from watching it: thieves generally hold it close to the door handle for two to three seconds, after which the locks unlatch, and they can enter as if they’d just opened the door with a key.
The box doesn’t trip the car alarm (if your vehicle has one), and it’s unknown whether the device is capable of starting the engine and allowing the perpetrator to speed away, as all reported cases have involved thieves opening the door, stealing valuables, and making a quick getaway. But since it clearly compromises the computer system of your automobile, we’re pretty sure they could drive off if they wanted to. It’s likely they haven’t because stolen automobiles are easier for police to trace.
To give you an idea of how quickly a thief can act using one of these devices, we refer you to one victim, who was fortunate enough to catch the perpetrator on a surveillance video installed in his car. The video captured the length of time it took for the thief to relieve the man of over $3,000 in electronics — 18 seconds. (We assume the camera was hidden well enough that the burglar didn’t see it.)
Just what type of new criminal could do such a thing?
Hackers: The Car Thieves Of The Future
Mike Bender of the ICW Group Insurance Co., in comments to CNN, warned that we’re now coming face-to-face with the car thief of the future — computer hackers — adding that a car is basically “a rolling computer” that no longer requires sledgehammers or coat hangers to burglarize.
“If you can hack in to NSA, you can hack in to GM,” Bender said.
So just what can be done to prevent these thefts from occurring?
One: if at all possible, don’t travel with valuables inside your car. If buying a big-ticket item, such as a computer, do it as your last planned stop before going home. Don’t stop for $10 worth of groceries and assume it’ll be waiting on you when you return.
Two: if you do need to stop somewhere else before going home and the valuables are light enough, place them in a sack and carry them with you into your final stop.
Three: use secure garages. They’re not foolproof — nothing really is — but they still provide an extra layer of protection that may not be worth it for the average car hacker to try to penetrate.
There Is Hope.
According to the CNN report, there may be hope of a solution on the horizon. Police in Austin have stated that they have one of these boxes in their possession. While it’s not clear how said box would differ from ones used in California, Illinois, and New York, it could be a start in learning how these devices are put together, and how they can be counteracted.
With new technology, new threats will arise to the security of your belongings. You won’t be able to stop every one of these threats, but you can still reduce the likelihood of being a victim by taking a little extra precaution whenever you’re shopping and by adding as many layers of surveillance to your car as possible.