High-tech break-ins: Reports of Columbus thieves using owners’ own car keys against them

Local News

After multiple reports of car break-ins in 2 neighborhoods near downtown, victims who say they’re confident they locked their vehicles are concerned that thieves have gone high tech. 

Last week, many residents in Victorian Village began noticing things missing from their cars, even after they locked them. 

With no sign of forced entry police say it’s possibly a sign of the times with suspects using a high-tech device that boosts your key fob’s signal to remotely unlock your car doors.

Marc Taub has a routine like most. He locks his front door when he leaves and unlocks it when he returns home. 

Like when he parks his car. 

“I don’t leave until I hear the beep,” said Taub. 

So he knew something wasn’t right when he got in his car last week –

“So I opened my console and I noticed that all the change was gone all my chargers were gone my gift card was gone,” he said. 

He’s sure he locked it and there was no evidence of forced entry.

“I was beating myself up. It was one of those things where I know that I wait to hear the beep before I leave the car every time,” he said. 

And Marc’s not the only one. Bri Lohse said her vehicle was also broken into and she’s sure it was locked. 

“My car locks after a certain amount of time and there aren’t any windows broken in or anything,” she said. 

And though nothing was stolen from her vehicle it robbed her of her peace of mind.

“I lock my car and before I go to bed I make sure that my car’s locked again it’s just I feel unsafe, even if they didn’t take anything I just don’t feel right,” said Lohse. 

The stories were similar in Victorian Village and Italian Village beginning last week. 

“I would say in the last few weeks at least like 1 or 2 a day,” said Lohse. 

Columbus Police auto theft detectives say with no arrest yet they aren’t certain, but it’s possible thieves are building ‘amplifiers’ or buying them online.  So when you park your vehicle in front of your home and leave your key fob inside the house, crooks can use it to amplify your car remote’s signal & gain entry.  Victims like Bri and Marc are relieved to know the method of the break-ins makes some sense but say it comes without some sense of peace.

“People from all over the neighborhood so it’s not isolated to a specific street or anything like that. If you’re downtown it could happen to you,” said Taub.

According to police, you can protect your key fob by storing it in any type of metal box.  They say your freezer or refrigerator will work and that even wrapping the fob in aluminum foil will block the amplifier from working. 

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