Thieves targeting cars with keyless ignition - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Thieves targeting cars with keyless ignition

Key fob (Source: NBC12) Key fob (Source: NBC12)
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Car larcenies in the Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond are on the rise, which according to police is nothing new; what is new is how some of these criminals are targeting victims.

According to neighbors, their locked cars are being rummaged through repeatedly, and they believe they may have found the reason why.

Christopher Seamon, who lives in Church Hill, bought his car five years ago. Within two months, he started noticing his locked doors were miraculously unlocked.

"Three years ago, I found cigarette ashes on the driver seat and a number of papers inside my glove box were rearranged, and at that point I was like, I need to make sure I'm locking the door and check at night." Seamon said.

So every night, like clockwork, that's what Seamon does - but to no avail. He often finds his car unlocked in the morning.

"At least once a month, I'll find my doors unlocked somehow," Seamon said.

Seamon believes there is a new kind of predator out there, one who is technologically savvy and using electronics to break into cars.

"Based off me looking around and doing IT-related work, I think people are actually creating devices to capture the actual signal that's being transmitted," Seamon said.

The signal Seamon is talking about involves the signal to the key fob. Experts say Seamon is right.

According to Consumer Affairs, who spoke to an ex-FBI agent who now runs a cyber security company, thieves are purchasing a device that can amplify the signal from the key fob. The key can be inside the house, and the amplifier can be used to start the vehicle or even to copy the system's code.

There is a simple way to protect yourself, according to Consumer Affairs: aluminum foil!

Experts say if you cover the key fob with aluminum wrap, it will prevent thieves from getting access to it electronically.

A person can also purchase something called a Faraday bag, that is like a plastic baggie, only made of foil.

Police also continue to remind you to keep valuables out of your car and to always lock your doors.

According to Richmond Police, theft from motor vehicles has increased since last year. In 2017, there were 18 reported incidents from Jan. 1 until June 30. So far in 2018, there have been 27 reported incidents.

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