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Clever Car Crooks Use Signals From Remotes, Key Fobs To Break In, Steal Vehicles

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - In a story first brought to you by CBS4, North Miami police warned residents that there had been several incidents in which thieves hacked into car remotes and were able to unlock and, sometimes, steal the vehicle.

Now, these types of thefts are being reported elsewhere in the county.

The culprit in car remotes and key fobs, that owners used to unlock their vehicles, is a radio signal that is always on.

"What the detectives say is that these people are really good," said Manny Reyes.

He said those two people who stole his 2020 Cadillac Escalade were not just good, they had a tool that made the theft look easy. He said the theft of his SUV was caught on camera and he was amazed at how quickly it went.

"The first the gentleman walks up to the car, pulls on the handle, the car is obviously locked," said Reyes.

Reyes said he then called another person wearing a red hoodie to come over.

"Goes up to the front window and that's when you see him pointing to the window," he said.

Reyes said his key fob was placed relatively close to the front door.

"Trying to get the signal, take the signal, then as he approaches the vehicle, the vehicle unlocks," he said.

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Reyes said the partner in crime then got in the SUV, the OnStar was deactivated, and a few moments later they drove off. The entire theft took about four minutes.

"In the videos, you see both their faces real clear, if I walk into Publix and this guy walks past me, either one of them, I can recognize them," said Reyes.

In fact, he said, the visible cameras in front of the house did not deter these thieves one bit. He said he couldn't remember what kind of personal information he might have had in the SUV, so he's canceled his credit cards and is monitoring his ID.

"The reader, I'm told by the detectives, you can only acquire it by a car dealership, it's brand-specific, so that's why it didn't pick up the code by my wife's key for example," said Reyes.

Miami police are still investigating this case.

Police said concerned car owners can buy containers and pouches that can block the RFID signals from key fobs and remotes. They also suggest keeping them as far away as possible from exterior walls and windows.


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