One of my friends shared a post from NextDoor, a community-based website/app where neighbors share information about everything from noisy neighbors to crime. I wrote about it several years ago but it looks like there’s been an uptick in criminals ransacking cars. The worst part (or is it the best part?!) is that they do it on the sly, without smashing windows.

As one person posted: “Last night my husband’s locked car was ransacked in front of our house… the same thing happened with my car a few months ago. We live on X Street. We had footage from our security camera that showed this guy in a hoodie opening the door to my car as though he had the key… nothing that police seem to be able to do anything about. I know other neighbors have posted about the same experience. Nothing taken… it seems these people are just looking for money. I don’t know if there is a universal FOB that these people have or a device that extends the signal from your FOB inside the house. Some of you had posted about a metal box that you can keep your FOB in that would not allow the signal to transmit through the box. After my experience, I ordered a few different ones on Amazon and they didn’t work to block the signal when I put the FOB in the box and was close to my car. Has anyone found a good solution to this issue? Appreciate any tips you can share! Thank you! – Jayne

In 2017, I learned from a disturbing NBC News report that thieves are using new high-tech devices like electronic key fobs and code duplicators to break into cars without leaving a trace. These devices are easily obtainable and cheap. The disturbing pattern is obviously upsetting car owners, insurance companies and police departments across the country.

The thefts have happened in places from California to England. As noted in the report, “The National Insurance Crime Bureau issued a warning about the advanced technology car thefts. One of the devices mentioned in the warning is an electromagnetic pulse device, which sends a shockwave to a car’s circuitry that unlocks the doors. Another device the thieves use is a code grabber, which unlocks cars by locating and duplicating their remote key cords—allowing someone to get into a vehicle by essentially cloning the key.”

In the news segment, you see security camera footage from Sausalito, California, of a thief using one of these devices to unlock a car door to take a laptop bag and a $15,000 bicycle. Car alarms don’t go off in this type of theft, so security experts recommend placing your keys inside an RFID signal-blocking bag, which blocks the signal from connecting with your fob.

The good news is that thieves are mostly just stealing items from the car instead of the vehicle itself.

Obviously by now, everyone knows to double-check to see if their car is locked and there’s nothing of value left behind, or at least not visible. But that doesn’t necessarily stop the bad guys from breaking in and double-checking, especially if they can do it without making any noise.

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2 Comments On "How to Prevent Items in Your Car From Getting Stolen"
  1. Pat|

    This type of break in is common in Portland, Or. Folks have recommended that putting your keyfob in a metal can also prevents those devices from working. So far, keeping our keys in a tea tin seems to be working-fingers crossed!

  2. Erika|

    This just happened to me a few weeks ago! A thief broke into several vehicles in my apartment’s garage and stole airbags from the car — I bought myself an RFID-blocking bag the next day! Hopefully, it doesn’t happen again…

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