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San Luis Obispo Police Department
Monday July 11th, 2016 :: 02:16 p.m. PDT


High Tech Thefts

There has been a warning to Southern California drivers about a growing car theft trend that targets keyless car entry remotes, and we can be susceptible to this same type of theft.
Some thieves are using an inexpensive gadget called a “power amplifier” to quickly unlock cars sitting in private driveways, clearing out valuables as owners sit inside their homes, completely unaware of what’s happening just a few feet away.
Security experts saw that the best way to protect your car from this kind of crime is to store your keyless car fob in a place that blocks electronic signals.
One option is a “faraday cage,” which is a box or bag made of conductive material that blocks external static and non-static electric fields.
Keeping keyless car entry remotes in a microwave oven or refrigerator is another possibility.

Here’s how they work:
When a driver unlocks a car with a remote key fob, the car is communicating to the key by means of a unique radio frequency signal. Power amplifiers boost that signal strength, which makes the car "think" the key is closer than it actually is. In this way, a thief could make the car "talk to" the key fob, even if the fob is sitting on a counter inside the driver’s home.

There are ways to protect your key fob from being hacked.

1. Store your keys in the microwave. The door of the microwave doesn’t allow radio frequency signals to travel through it. A refrigerator, or generally any metal box, will also block radio frequency signals.

2. Park in a garage. That way you have a physical barrier, possibly a home alarm system, and even pets that will alert you if someone approaches your car.

3. If you must park outside, consider disabling your remote key system, and use your car key manually to enter your car. Disabling the system is a simple process in older cars. If you have a newer car, you may want to consult your dealer.

San Luis Obispo Police Department
1042 Walnut Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 805-781-7337

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