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Thieves Can Use Bluetooth To Find Hidden Devices, Laptops In Your Car

SAN JOSE (KPIX) - There is an urban legend circulating that crooks are using Bluetooth scanner apps to see if you've hidden valuables in your car. Well, KPIX spent the morning testing it out, cruising the parking lot of a fitness gym, and it's not a myth. In fact, it is true.

Bluetooth was invented as a way for our devices to quickly and easily connect to each other. But leave it up to the bad guys to ruin it for everybody.

Ellora Muna of San Jose keeps her tile buried inside her purse, deep in her wallet, but it was so strong that I honed in on the Bluetooth signal from across the parking lot.

"That's kind of…creepy," said Muna.

Sandra Avila is a San Jose police crime prevention specialist, and says most people don't realize some devices are constantly broadcasting a signal.

"Auto burglars are gonna find a way to get your things," said Avila.

A quick scan of the iPhone app store shows there are a bunch of free, easy to use Bluetooth scanners on the market now.

"There are some people, auto burglars who actually detect that signal and target your car for that," said Avila.

While using the Bluetooth scanner, it's hard to not look shady, pacing back and forth and pausing to check the signal.

Police warn if you see someone behaving like this, don't just shrug it off.

"If you see someone walking around a parking lot, usually, they [criminals] don't do that. But if they're walking around, they're on a bicycle, or they're on a scooter, that's suspicious. And so what we want is for someone to report that to 911," said Avila.

If you have to keep it in your car, power off the Bluetooth, and completely shut down the device, before hiding it in your car.

As for Muna, she says she'll be more vigilant in the future.

"It's disturbing. It's going to allow random people to identify that I have a Tile, identify that I have a wallet because people usually put a Tile for something that's valuable for them to retrieve," said Muna.

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