Wireless key fobs making “car popping” easier

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Technological advancements in the auto industry can make life easier for drivers, but it also seems to be making life easier for “car poppers” to steal valuables from your car.

It used to be a car thief had to break your windows, pry your door open, or slide a “Slim Jim” inside the window to break into your car. Nowadays, a thief can turn to the Internet and find plenty of devices, sometimes called “code grabbers” that use your car’s own technology to steal your belongings.

Buffalo attorney Holly Baum thinks she was a victim of a high tech car popper, but fortunately there was nothing for the crook to steal .

“I suspected that they used something to get into the car without having to physically break into it,” Baum said.

Baum was confused–and a little frightened–when she got in her car, certain that it was locked, and discovered the center console was open, which seemed odd since nothing was in the console to begin with.

Holly said that wasn’t all that was amiss.

“Then I looked further and the glove compartment was open, then the passenger door in the front was ajar,” she said.

Baum then turned to the Internet and learned thieves can buy devices, inexpensive devices, designed to intercept the wireless signals between the computer in your car and your key fob to unlock your car.

The break-in doesn’t set off the anti-theft alarm because the on-board computer thinks it is the driver who is getting in the car.

Dennis Snyder, co-owner of D&R Automotive Restylers, explained the signals are encrypted, but a thief can still hack into the code.

“They are able to pick up the code from your car when they are nearby,” he said. “You would lock it, and just that locking sends the signal, and they steal that signal.”

D&R Auto Restylers offers aftermarket car security systems, and said as soon as the automakers come up with new hi-tech equipment to deter car thieves, the criminals figure out a way to defeat it.

Snyder sells a system that even comes with its own insurance, and talked about how it would work if a thief stole golf clubs from your car.

“They smash your rear window, pull the clubs out. As long as you submit a police report, they will look at what you had, you submit it, and they will give you a check back for up to $2500.”

Security experts also agree an effective deterrent against a high tech car popper is a motion detector installed on your house. A thief doesn’t want to be noticed and the motion detector can put them in the spotlight.

But Snyder says your best deterrent is common sense: Don’t leave your keys in your car, keep it locked, and take your valuables with you.

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