With AAA predicting the biggest Labor Day travel weekend since the recession hit, many Americans will be stealing away for that final summer trip. Unfortunately, they won't be the only ones stealing.
There's a new type of crime happening on America's highways and byways. A nationwide crime spree in the making, if you will, whereby high-tech thieves can unlock vehicles easier than you'd like to think possible.
We're way beyond rocks, cobblestones, baseball bats, shims and crowbars now. Using improvised electronic devices that recreate the same signals as the key fobs many of us carry, thieves can pop the lock on your car from afar, then rifle through your belongings and steal whatever they like, all without the noise and trouble of breaking a window or jimmying a lock.
Once the stuff of urban legend, this kind of crime is now on the rise, according to police. "We believe that this code-grabbing technology was utilized and we are looking into it," Sgt. Andrew Schoeff of the Chicago Police Department told ABC News after thieves there broke into multiple cars in one neighborhood.
Technology experts have warned for years that key fob crimes were possible. In 2011 Swiss researchers announced they had cracked the encrypted remote entry systems of ten car models by eight different manufacturers, using equipment that cost as little as $100. That research has now become reality, as crime rings from Chicago to Long Beach have figured it out.
The way this crime works is still somewhat of a mystery in crime-fighting circles. And while there are doubtless ways to avoid becoming a victim, I'm not sure what they might be beyond owning a car that doesn't use the fob system.