High tech thieves targeting Keyless Entry vehicles

by Kristin Smith
WTLV News

A new kind of high-tech hacking is giving headaches to hundreds of drivers.

Crooks have found a way to crack your car's codes without even breaking your window.

The classic smash-and-grab theft is still a big problem, experts say, but that gives thieves unwanted attention.

So some thieves have figured out a way to bypass all that by using your keyless remote against you.

When you hear the beep of your car locking, it gives peace of mind to most of us.

It tells you no one, except you, can get in.

Gary Lindstrom got an alarm installed in his car when he realized all that may be a false sense of security.

"It's always in the back of your mind, but I'm not real worried about it, since I have the alarms," said Lindstrom, a car theft victim.

His car was broken into and stolen four years ago.

Security expert David Barthof says it can be easy to break into a car that only has a factory-made keyless entry remote.

He says they'll actually use it against you.

"They'll actually capture, it's called a code grabber. They'll actually be in the parking lot, and when a nice car comes in, the person gets out and arms their alarm, they'll capture that frequency and they'll try, after the customer goes in, they'll try to reproduce that frequency, rebroadcast it, and get in the car," said Barthof, owner of Auto Sound and PC's.

Barthof says it's smart to get what's known as an "aftermarket" alarm system, which means it wasn't made at the factory.

"Most factory alarms aren't really alarms, they're just keyless entry systems. Most thieves, if they see a LED blinking, which is aftermarket, they're not going to go after those. They'll go to one like yours," said Barthof.

Now for Gary, that's peace of mind.

"There's no way they're going to get into my car," said Gary.

Barthof says a good alarm system can be had for less than $200.