A car is reported stolen every 45 seconds. In one out of eight cases, the owner made it easy by leaving the keys or a keyless fob in the car.
It’s a growing problem, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. This type of theft has grown 31% in the last three years. Last year, 57,096 cars were stolen with keys — 21% more than in 2014.
The top 5 states for car theft using keys were California, Texas, Florida, Ohio, and Nevada. The top 5 cities were Las Vegas, Detroit, Atlanta, Miami, and Philadelphia. Only Hawaii had zero reports.
Everyone knows not to leave a car unlocked with the keys inside, but did you know a wireless fob can be used to break into your car? Or that you can stop hackers by keeping it in your freezer or wrapping it in aluminum foil?
In the old days, stealing a car meant breaking a window and hot-wiring the engine. Today it is easier to use a laptop or other hacking devices. Police in Atlanta, Seattle, New Orleans, and other cities have issued warnings.
Thieves do not even need to understand electronics — some devices can be purchased online for less than $50. The entire system uses a few cheap microchips, batteries, a radio transmitter, and an antenna.
The thief must be within 300 feet of the vehicle. The device “eavesdrops” on the signal between the car and the wireless key, and clones the signal to make a new key.
Wired recently described a simple hack that can unlock and start an estimated 100 million vehicles — including nearly every Volkswagen sold since 1995 and millions of Fiat, Ford, Mitsubishi, Nissan, and other vehicles.
Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau