As you may have heard or read on Nextdoor, we had a car theft on W. Hillcrest Drive around 2 am Friday am. There were reportedly two other cars broken into that same night. Two witnesses reported seeing two young black males, one with a white hoodie and one with a black hoodie…hoods up. The police indicated they believed they were the ones who had just stolen a car and they were looking for them.
In these days of technology, we have to be extra vigilant, especially if you have a car with a keyless ignition system which many new cars are equipped with. Keyless ignition systems come with a fob that transmits a unique low-frequency signal to the car’s computer system, which then validates that the correct signal has been sent and allows you to push a button on the dashboard or console to unlock the doors and start the engine.
Hackers can take advantage of this by using a cheap relay box to copy and transmit the signal from your key fob while it’s still inside your home or on your person, making it easy to steal your vehicle. This is called a relay attack, and it’s simple for thieves to pull off as long as they have a friend.
Here’s how it works: Each person carries a relay box, which can be purchased for as little as $20 online. The boxes can pick up the radio frequency from a car key fob that’s sitting on a table inside, hung up on a key rack, or even resting in a purse. The relay boxes allow one person to stand near the home to pick up and amplify the key fob signal and then transmit it to the second box, which the other person holds outside the door of a car. Once the key fob signal reaches the second box, it unlocks the door, as the car thinks you’re holding your key fob nearby. Now the criminals just have to drive away without getting caught and then change the locks.
Virtually every car with an automatic-open key fob is susceptible to theft, even if it isn’t push-to-start. The good news? It’s pretty quick and cheap to prevent yourself from falling victim to a relay attack. One of the cheapest things to do is buy an inexpensive signal blocking pouch that prevents the hacker from communicating with your key fob. One brand is called a Faraday pouch but I’m sure there are others that can be purchased locally or online via Amazon or other venders.
And please keep an eye out for your neighbors. Don’t leave valuables in plain view in your car. Let’s not make it any easier for thieves.
The use of trade names does not constitute endorsement or discrimination by the North Main Community Association
Car Theft in North Main