Car Trouble

Between The Bridges
Typography

The recent spate of car thefts and vehicle pilferage in our community of Broad Channel has served as an unfortunate wake-up call to us to make sure our vehicles are locked while parked, and that no package(s), jewelry, electronic gadgets, cash, or any other items of apparent worth are left visible within the vehicle that only serve as an invitation for thieves while your cars are unattended, even for a short period of time. The keywords here are "make sure your vehicle is locked..."

Those of us who drive newer model "keyless entry" vehicles should also be aware that these always-on key fobs present a serious weakness in your car's security. As long as your keys are in range, anyone can open the car and the system will think it's you. That's why newer car models won't unlock until the key fob is within a foot of them. Although we all delight in technology that makes our own lives easier, it is a double-edged sword, and in this case, car thieves have been quick to equip themselves with new technology that outwits the manufacturers.

For less than $100, anyone can utilize the Internet to obtain an "amplifier" that can detect your key fob signal from more than 100 feet away and then transmit that signal to your car. In other words, your keys could be in your house, and the thieves could simply walk up to your car, open it and drive away.  In order to prevent your key fob signal from being hijacked, you might want to stash the fob in a commercially available key fob security pouch (essentially a Faraday cage) or even the static shielding bag your EZ Pass came with. Of course, you could also simply tightly wrap your key fob with aluminum foil. The keywords here are "wrap tightly" to safeguard against any radio frequency (RF) leakage from the fob. I also know of one friend who routinely tossed his key fob into the freezer of his refrigerator when he arrived home at night. He discontinued this practice when he found his key fob had been inadvertently tossed into a bowl of punch during a summer BBQ. 

Of course you might also want to consider utilizing more traditional, yet still effective security methods such as steering wheel and brake pedal locks, which are still commercially available for about $20. If your car is to be left unattended for an extended period of time and is old enough to still have a distributor and if you might want to switch you car's coil wire with a spark plug wire. If you have a newer car without a distributor, simply look in your owners’ manual to identify your ignition relay and fuel pump fuses and pull them until you are ready to get back on the road. Very few thieves will take the time to search down and correct these simple measures and will simply move on to an easier target.

Although most people think of it as something new, "keyless entry" criminal technology has actually been around and readily available since well before I was a kid back in the 1950's. Back then all youthful joyriders needed were a wire hanger or a "slim jim" to gain entry to the car and a screwdriver to pop the ignition sleeve, and the knowledge of how to connect your battery power, accessory and engine wires together, and then touch your "crank" wire to them to start the car. Of course back then, car theft (or joyriding as we used to refer to it) was seriously frowned upon by the local gendarmes and so, for the most part, our youthful exuberance was always seriously tempered with the knowledge that a painful "attitude adjustment" was sure to be forthcoming by the local beat cop's nightstick if he found you messing with a car other than your own! 

The bottom line is to remember that most car thieves are not professionals, they do not completely understand the inner workings of the vehicle, and they are in a hurry, so anything you do to make your vehicle less appealing to the thieves and slow them down, works to your benefit. With that in mind, Christmas is fast approaching, so make sure you stow any gifts out of sight in your car's trunk and, of course, if you happen to notice anyone prowling the avenue and side streets of Broad Channel in the wee hours, call 911 immediately.

Broad Channel, why would anyone want to live anywhere else?

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