Car Thefts Are Soaring. Key Fob Carelessness is Making Problem Worse.
New York Times
After years of declines, car thefts appear to be surging in cities and suburbs all over the country. The spree, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic, does not appear to be the work of sophisticated crime rings, the police say.
Instead, this new wave of car thefts seems to stem from a combination of simple carelessness and the same technological advancement that once made stealing cars nearly impossible: the key fob.
Police say forgotten fobs and keyless technology have contributed to soaring stolen car cases.
“This is a very stupid problem to have,” one police official said recently. “The technology that was created specifically to eliminate car thefts, such as key fob technology, is now being used against us.”
There are many ways to leave a car vulnerable: Some drivers forget a key fob inside. Others take it, but leave the car on, allowing the vehicle to be driven away — though not restarted later. Some cars can be started if the key is just nearby. And in a smaller number of cases, criminals have used technology to reprogram keyless cars.
“Key fobs were initially thought to be a proactive security measure,” an insurance company executive said.
“People have let their guards down with their vehicles.”