Police are baffled over a device thieves have been using recently which somehow activates the keyless entry and gives them a clean shot to your car and anything in it.
A Long Beach, CA Police Department video has been making the rounds.
In the video, two suspects are seen walking up to four different vehicles, two parked in the street, and two parked in the same driveway. Although they are not able to gain access to the vehicles in the street, they are able to access to the vehicles parked in the driveway after a handheld devices is manipulated causing the vehicles dome light to come on and the doors to unlock.
“We are stumped and we don’t know what this technology is,” Long Beach Deputy Police Chief David Hendricks told The Today Show last week. The department said it has contacted auto makers and car alarm manufacturers to no avail.
According to the web site Ars Technica:
While keyless entry systems have been available for cars in rudimentary forms since the late ’80s, modern transmitter codes are generally encrypted, and most transmitters rely on a “rolling code” that changes in a planned sequence to prevent would-be thieves from standing near the car as the owner opens it and listening in on the UHF signal that the transmitter sends to the car. The Register noted that last year saw a spike in BMW break-ins due to the sale of a $30 on-board diagnostics bypass tool that allows hackers to reprogram blank keys for use on specific cars, but the US attacks appear to be different.
One interesting theory, however, was put forth on the LBPD’s YouTube channel two months ago. “One has to wonder if they were using signal repeaters to join the car to the key—which was presumably inside the house some distance away,” one commenter wrote. “Usually both the key fob and the car must be close together but with a repeater to boost the strength in both directions, the distance could be extended significantly. This type of hack was described more than two years ago by a Professor from ETH Zurich(? Iirc).”
Ars believes the commenter is referring to an academic paper explaining how to increase the signal strength of a car’s passive keyless entry system.