Personal Information a Liability during Auto Break Ins

An obviously frustrating experience, having your vehicle broken into can also have additional ramifications than just the loss of any valuables which may be inside. Savvy thieves can use the information inside of your vehicle to create even more trouble for you in the future. This is what makes locking your vehicle, as well as taking other preventative measures, is crucial to avoiding the headache which can result from having your vehicle broken into. We will provide you with tips to prevent your vehicle from being targeted for a break-in as well as the personal information in your vehicle which should be protected.

Protecting Personal Information in Your Car

When individuals think about vehicle break-ins their main concern is that their vehicle, or the valuables inside, will be stolen. These are legitimate concerns, but there is also the danger to personal security posed during automotive break-ins. Inside of the average person’s glove box, there is a wide array of information which is useful to thieves who are looking to get their hands on your valuables. One piece of information is your vehicle registration. Someone who breaks into your vehicle can use the address listed on your vehicle registration to find your home. If your vehicle happens to be parked away from your home, the thief is now aware that your home is vulnerable at the moment. This can lead to an additional break-in at your home, before you are even aware that the automotive theft has occurred. There are a few ways that you can protect personal information which is left in your car. Locking the glove box would be the most effective method. For those who are unable to lock their glove box, placing sensitive information in a hidden area can be a great way to protect yourself during a vehicle break-in. However, the best way to protect that personal information in your vehicle is to avoid making yourself an easy target.

automotive theft

Thieves are much more likely to target an open door than to smash your window.

We have previously detailed ways to avoid being a target of auto break-ins, however; repetition is the key to learning. With this in mind we will go over some of the ways to avoid having your vehicle targeted. The first step is to ensure that you do not have any valuables in plain view. This allows a thief to know it is worth breaking it your vehicle if you have a valuable sitting in plain view. The second step, is to ensure that you are locking your doors. While it can be easy to forget, locking your car door can cut down on the chance that your vehicle is broken into because there is no easy entry. If you have lost your door key and have no way to unlock the door, contact an automotive locksmith to have the key replaced immediately. Lastly, parking your vehicle in a well lit area can also help to ward off automotive thieves. Without the cover of darkness, some thieves will not be willing to risk entering your vehicle.

In order to properly protect yourself from automotive theft the easiest thing to do is to lock your locks. Both your door locks and the glove boys lock should be armed when you are not in the vehicle. If a thief manages to obtain your personal information they can not only break-in to your home, but also potentially steal your identity. Of course, there are other actions which can be taken to prevent your vehicle from becoming a target, but the most important aspect of your vehicle’s security should be consistently locking your car’s doors.

Philadelphia Councilwoman Brown has City Car Stolen

The Philadelphia Daily News is reporting that Philadelphia Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown had her city-owned vehicle stolen from outside of her home in Wynnefield. This past Sunday morning, Councilwoman Reynolds Brown noticed that her city-owned, and taxpayer funded, vehicle was not parked along the curb where she had left it. She reported the vehicle stolen to police who eventually were able to locate the vehicle when another individual called in about a possible overnight vehicle theft. This Philadelphia citizen was awoken at about 4 AM Monday morning to the sound of his vehicle’s alarm. The citizen saw three people running and called police. When police arrived they were able to track down the three individuals, they determined that they had been entering unlocked vehicles to take any unattended valuables inside. One of the suspects who was apprehended had a car key on her person. After questioning, police were able to locate that vehicle and determined that the vehicle in question was the city owned vehicle stolen from out front of Councilwoman Reynolds Brown’s home.

councilwoman reynolds brown

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown is pictured above.

Why were the thieves successful?

Councilwoman Reynolds Brown said that she left her vehicle on the curb outside of her on Saturday night, by Sunday morning the vehicle was gone. Did the thieves use some type of advanced technology to copy her key? No. It seems that the Councilwoman not only left her city owned vehicle unlocked, but left the car keys inside as well. This offered the thieves the opportunity to easily take her vehicle without being detected. Luckily for the Councilwoman, these thieves pressed their luck and were eventually caught while committing another theft.

How to Protect Yourself from Car Theft

There are some very simple tips that you can follow to avoid having your vehicle both targeted and stolen. For any vehicle parked curbside, or on a driveway for that matter, should be locked when the vehicle is not in use. The car owner should also avoid leaving a spare set of keys in the vehicle at all costs. Even if your vehicle is locked, if someone shatters a window or uses some other form of entry, they would be able to use your key to drive away from the vehicle. In order to prevent your vehicle from being targeted, make sure to keep all valuables out of sight. Whether it is a large amount of change, GPS device or cell phone, a valuable item will draw a thief’s attention to your vehicle. Taking these preventative measures will reduce the chance that your vehicle is targeted just like Councilwoman Reynolds Brown’s vehicle was. Fortunately for the Councilwoman, and taxpayers, police were able to recover the vehicle and get it back where it belongs.

New Security Concerns Regarding Push-to-Start Systems

Earlier this month, USA Today released a story which claimed that keeping your push-to-start fob inside of a refrigerator or freezer when you vehicle is not in use can actually make your vehicle more secure. Most people would scoff at this advise, however there is some truth to the statement. However, to understand how a refrigerator or freezer can keep your vehicle more secure, you must take a look at the security system involved with a push-to-start vehicle.

Push-to-Start Security System

In a vehicle with a push-to-start system car owners are able to open their doors and start the car without having to use a key blade. This offers a great deal of convenience to the vehicle owner, however it can also help a thief to steal that same vehicle. The push-to-start fob for one of these vehicles must be able to communicate with the signal that is emanating from the car’s computer. Generally the range of this signal is just a few inches. This would mean that whoever was accessing the vehicle would likely need to have the fob in their hand or pocket in order to gain access. Unfortunately thieves are finding ways to increase the signal strength coming from the car’s computer.

As reported by USA Today, thieves can purchase a power amplifier for less than $20 online. This power amplifier can take the few inches of signal provided by the vehicle’s computer and send that signal to a length of 100 meters. If a thief was using a power amplifier, this would mean that your fob could be safe in your home, but still close enough to the vehicle to allow a thief to take control. So the question is; where do refrigerators and freezers come into play?

View below as two thieves use a power amplifier to gain entry to a vehicle parked in a driveway.


Possible Security Precautions

Due to the metal frame of a refrigerator, signal from the car’s computer would be blocked. This would mean that no matter how strongly the signal is amplified, thieves will not be able to get into your vehicle. However, in offering this advice USA Today looked past one crucial bit of information. The cold of a refrigerator will drain the battery inside of your car fob resulting in the need for a new battery earlier than expected. Phila-Locksmith recommends that to protect your push-to-start vehicle from break-in to wrap your fob in aluminum foil. By wrapping your fob in aluminum foil while it is not in use you are able to prevent against this break-in threat while also maintaining the longest battery life possible.

Now that vehicle manufacturers are aware of this security loophole it will be interesting to see how they will respond. Automotive thieves are constantly trying to get a leg-up on manufacturers which seems to now be happening with push-to-start systems. No matter what car manufacturers do, it seems that thieves will have their own strategies for compromising security not long after the security’s introduction to the market.

This blog post had been provided by Phila-Locksmith for the benefit of our customers, as well as the residents of the Delaware Valley. The Delaware Valley can turn to Phila-Locksmith whenever they may need a car locksmith to provide them with service for a push-to-start vehicle. With all of the tools and training necessary to provide you with service on these systems, Phila-Locksmith is the one company to choose for your vehicle.

Car Theft Dramatically Decreasing Says Newly Released Statistics

(VIA National Insurance Crime Bureau) In the early 1990’s, the major automotive manufacturers faced a major issue. While their sales were on the rise, so were the theft of the vehicles that they were producing. In the year 1991, automotive thefts hit their all-time high with 1,661,738 vehicles being reported stolen. Not only was this the highest amount of automotive thefts reported in one year, but it also had the highest concentration of thefts per capita. During that year, there was an average of 659 vehicle thefts per 100,000 US citizens. Recently released statistics show that for the year 2013 there was a sharp decline in the amount of automotive theft that have taken place sine the year 1991, the year which had the most automotive thefts in United States history.

During 2013, 699,594 vehicles were reported stolen. This is a decrease of over 55% when compared to the year 1991. Not only was there a decrease in the overall amount of automotive thefts, but there was also a decrease in the amount of car thefts per capita. While there was an average of 659 vehicle thefts per 100,000 people in 1991, that number had decreased to less than 200 per 100,000 people. That shows a decrease of over 67% in the amount of thefts. This does raise a few questions, like; what has changed that allowed for such a dramatic decrease of automotive thefts?

Upgrades in Automotive Security

During the year 1991, thieves were commonly using the hot-wire method to steal vehicles. This is where a thief opens your dashboard or ignition in order to access the starter wire. Once the thief had access to that wire, by giving it a power charge they would be able to start the vehicle. The updated technology of transponder car keys has actively removed this method from thieves’ arsenals. Even with power being sent to the starter, a vehicle which has a transponder car key system will not start unless there is a key with a corresponding transponder chip inside of the ignition. While this has made vehicles more secure, it can also end up costing car owners. If you car key is lost and you need to call a mobile locksmith to replace it, a transponder car key will cost more to be replaced than a traditional blade key. The reason for this is that a new key must not only be cut to match the ignition, but it also must be programmed to the car’s computer in order for it to properly function.

Upgrades in automotive security are not the only factor that has assisted with this massive decline in automotive thefts. Police and other law enforcement agencies have implemented new strategies, while also dedicating more time, for fighting the plague of automotive thefts which had been going on during the early 1990’s. What law enforcement has done is set-up dedicated units which solely focus on automotive theft. They have also implemented “bait cars” and automated license plate readers. One assists police in getting automotive thieves off the street before they can strike an unsuspecting victim, while the other works to identify stolen vehicle and return them to their rightful owner.

There is no doubt that car owners should be encouraged by the sharp decrease in automotive thefts. After all, vehicles are extremely expensive pieces of equipment and their security needs to be at an acceptable level for this reason. As with many technologies, these security features may only be effective in the short-term. Thieves are always working to gain an advantage over those trying to stop them and it only figures to be a short period of time before they come up with a new and effective way to steal transponder car key vehicles. Currently thieves are preying on the carelessness and momentary lapses of judgement that vehicle owners may experience to steal vehicles in a less technical way.

Norristown Example of Common Car Theft Practice

Thanks to the advent of transponder car keys for most newer make and model vehicles, it is becoming more difficult for thieves to steal cars in the ways that they had in the past. Specifically hot wiring, and jiggler keys, are methods which are no longer effective to gain control over a vehicle and thieves have had to adjust. One way that many thieves are adjusting is waiting for you to have a moment of weakness before striking. Either by targeting an unattended vehicle, or by breaking into a home to steal the car keys, thieves are able to take your vehicle right when you least expect it.

Just last week, in East Norriton, two men were arrested for car theft while using some of the methods named above. Police were first called by a resident who had left their vehicle running in their driveway to melt away snow that had accumulated on their vehicle. When that individual returned to their driveway, they found that the vehicle was gone. One neighbor claimed to have seen a vehicle parked on the side of the road which may had been involved in the theft. Later that day, police found a vehicle matching that description and attempted to pull the vehicle over after a traffic violation. The vehicle did not stop and police were led on a chase. Fortunately, no one was harmed during the events that took place and both of the individuals inside of the suspected car were apprehended.

While transponder car keys have made it more difficult for thieves to steal your vehicle using specific methods, it has also made it more difficult for technicians, like our Norristown locksmith, to complete replacement car keys. The moral of the story in the case of these two car thieves above, is for car owners to be attentive about their vehicle. Do not leave your vehicle unattended with the keys inside, you are only putting yourself in danger of becoming a victim of automotive theft yourself.

SUV with Push-to-Start Car Key Stolen

(VIA Q13 Fox News) Push-to-start car key systems are suppose to increase the security of your vehicle, while also increasing the amount of convenience that you have when accessing your vehicle. For one car owner in Seattle this was not the case. The father stopped at a gas station to get a cigar with his 10-month-old in the back seat of the vehicle. When he left the vehicle to go into the store he left his 10-month-old in the vehicle, which Phila-Locksmith reminds you is highly dangerous.

The father was in line at the store when he noticed a man quickly open his car door and jump inside. The father then quickly ran outside pleading with the vehicle to thief to not take the vehicle with his child inside. Since the keyless fob was in the father’s pocket, when he exited the store he was back in range of the vehicle to read the fob and start the vehicle. At this point the thief started the car and took off with the 10-month-old baby in tow. Just a short while down the road, the thief ditched the vehicle and the child, both of which were recovered safely. Witnesses who saw the man jump out of the vehicle had to stop in from rolling down the street, since the man jumped out in such a rush that he had not even put the vehicle into park.

The question remains how the vehicle was able to start even though the key fob was not inside of the vehicle. Most keyless start vehicles claim that the engine will not start unless the fob is inside of the vehicle, but there have been multiple cases where a keyless fob has been able to start a vehicle from outside. Another concern with this story is another parent leaving their child alone in a vehicle. While a situation like this may be unlikely, why risk the safety of your child? The 10-month-old was completely alright when police recovered the vehicle. Police also took the thief into custody at a restaurant just blocks from where he had ditched the ride. Keep an eye to see if vehicle manufacturers will change the technology in their push-to-start systems in the near future as vehicle owners look for security that they can rely on. After all, what good is convenient access to your vehicle, if everyone has convenient access to the vehicle?