Keyless entry fobs result in rash of vehicle thefts

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in security on (#8TR4)
story imageAs vehicles become more technologically advanced, thieves are becoming technologically savvy, too. Cars with a hands-free key fobs typically unlock a car within about 30 centimeters. But across the USA, thieves have begun using a device called a power amplifier to help unlock cars. The amplifier, which can cost less than $20 over the Internet — takes the signal from the car and projects it as far as 100 meters, so your car can find your key fob in your purse, pocket or the table where you dump your stuff when you come in the door.

In Toronto, Los Angeles, Long Beach, New York, Springfield, and more cities, police have reported a spike in thefts from Toyota and Lexus SUVs, Priuses, and more vehicles, all parked in owners' driveways with no signs of damage. As more people buy cars with these no-push key fobs, what's the solution to stopping this type of break-in? "Use a microwave" or wrap your keys in aluminum foil. The heavy metal cages block the signal. It's another case of convenience becoming a two-edged sword.

Re: I can't say I understand this 100% (Score: 3, Informative)

by zocalo@pipedot.org on 2015-05-12 07:46 (#8W7M)

There's an assumption here that the key fob only has a range of 30cm - are we sure that's the case? I don't have one of these specific systems, but I do have a remote fob for my car and it's good for tens of meters (I've not tried to establish the max range), which is mostly intended for stuff like turning on the AC to start to cool a hot car. Perhaps the system works by having the same type of fob with the added functionality of a receiver - when it receives the weak signal from the car, perhaps it just sends the regular high powered "open door" signal in response. You might still need a high powered receiver to pick up and boost the fob signal if it's far away, but it does resolve the 30cm:30cm problem.
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