MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The whole thing is starting to get to Angela Redden.
Twice, she's walked up to her car in her driveway and found it ransacked. What was stolen was negligible, but here's where it gets weird: there's no damage. No forced entry.
Twice, someone's broken into her car without actually breaking anything. "I could not figure out how in the world they had gotten in," Redden said.
She's certain the doors were locked: "I'm absolutely sure of it." Since it's a company car, by company policy, she had to have an authorized service center inspect it after each burglary. "The employees told me clearly it was not a 'slim-jim' or something you would normally think. It was some sort of a remote-operating type of device," she said.
She is the third Cooper-Young/Midtown Memphis resident in four months the WMC Action News 5 Investigators have documented as victims of auto burglary with some sort of device that can defeat key-less entry systems.
"It imitates your key fob," said Agent Kenny Mash of the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), the nation's authority on auto theft and insurance fraud. Mash came to Memphis at our request after the NICB released surveillance video of thieves caught in the act using the devices. Mash said they amplify a car's key-less entry frequency.
The devices piggy-back the signal on your car's key fob left inside your house to unlock your car parked outside your house.
"Unbelievable," said Redden.
"We need to be aware of who has access to our vehicle," Mash said. Think about it. Mechanics, car wash attendants, valets -- Mash said anyone who gets a hold of your key fob has the opportunity to clone it.
So here are his three ways to get street-smarter about these remote controlled auto break-ins:
* NEVER LEAVE ANYTHING OF VALUE IN YOUR VEHICLE. It's no longer enough to 'stow it, don't show it.' You shouldn't stow anything of significant value. Take it out. "I know not to keep things in my car that are going to attract attention," acknowledged Redden.
* KEEP YOUR FOB IN THE FREEZER OR A METAL BOX. When you're at home and you must park your car in the driveway or street, Mash suggested keeping your fob in the freezer or in a metal box to block any attempt to piggy-back its frequency from the outside. "If the frequency button gets pushed, nobody can pick your frequency up," he said.
* 'SMART-PHONE' YOUR AUTO REGISTRATION/PROOF OF INSURANCE CARD. We're taught that we must keep our registration and insurance cards in our glove compartments. They're loaded with personal information a thief can use against us. Mash suggested taking them out of your car, snapping pictures of them and storing them on your smart phone. Your insurance company may also offer an app that includes a digital version of your proof of insurance card. "Take a picture. You get stopped, officer asks to see it, pull it up and show it to him and just explain the situation to him," he said.
"The smart phone is a wonderful idea that I never would have thought of," Redden said.
It's one of three ideas to outsmart a high-tech crime that no one in Cooper-Young would have thought of.