Thieves could use “mystery device” to steal cars with push-button start

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Stolen Tesla Model S recovered using phone app. Image courtesy of CBS8.

Stolen Tesla Model S recovered using phone app. Image courtesy of CBS8.

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Car thieves want your wheels, and they will find a way to take them away from you. Automakers attempt to combat them in a number of ways but the car thieves are crafty and they evolve alongside the vehicles. It seems there’s a new means for the baddies to pinch your ride if it’s one that’s equipped with push-button start. According to a report by Automotive News, it’s a “mystery device” and it works rather simply.

The device is able to grab a signal from a key fob, and relay that signal to the vehicle. This allows the thief to gain access to the car, and in a number of cases it will actually allow the thief to turn the car on and drive it away. Working with the National Insurance Crime Bureau, testers tried the device on 35 vehicles on a CarMax lot. During that testing, the team was able to get inside 19 vehicles and start up and drive away 18 of them.

You won’t know your car’s been hit until you actually go outside and see that it’s gone. Of course, if you have a Hellcat or something other high-power car that barks when awoken, you may hear it, and that could be your best defense against car thieves. Manual gearboxes are a good defense, too, given how few people know how to drive stick nowadays.

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