A reader named Josh recently e-mailed to share a news story about how thieves have been breaking into cars equipped with keyless entry systems. Apparently there’s been a rash of break-ins with no signs of forced entry.
In the story, a NY Times writer shares how he witnessed two teens approaching his Toyota Prius armed with “a small black device.” Armed with this device, they were able to quickly open the door and enter his vehicle.
After consulting with a security expert, he learned that the little black box was likely a “power amplifier” that amplifies the distance your vehicle can search for a nearby key fob. The amplifier apparently allowed his car to detect the key fob in his kitchen, thereby letting the doors unlock.
Note: This “hack” only affects vehicles with proximity sensors. The more traditional, button-based keyless entry systems are safe. But if your car recognizes the presence of a nearby Smart Key (or similar) and unlocks with a touch, it could be susceptible.
The author of the article reports that he has started keeping his keys in the freezer to dampen the signal, though Josh also suggests that putting your keys in a cocktail shaker would be equally effective.