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New $5 device available on Internet unlocks car doors

Thieves have already struck in Winnipeg with the device

Published November 11, 2013
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A new device that costs about $5 online is allowing criminals to break into cars without leaving a trace.

The new device — which has been wreaking havoc in California for months and has now made its way to Canada, according to CBC News — is small enough to be hidden in the palm of a hand. It works by sending an electromagnetic pulse through a car’s key area to unlock the vehicle.

CBC interviewed a Winnipeg man, Rick Henzel, whose car was victimized by thieves using the new device.

Henzel said the incident was captured on security cameras he had installed about a year ago.

His cameras have caught other suspected incidents on tape as well. The raw video footage (below) taken by Henzel’s security cameras has been posted to YouTube and Facebook, showing what appears to be thieves easily “hacking” into vehicles in a driveway.

They walk up to several vehicles and apply a device to it until they find one whose door unlocks. They pump their fists, then quickly begin removing items from the vehicle and the trunk.

Security experts say the device works by hacking into a  vehicle’s computer systems. The device sends an electromagnetic pulse into the vehicle, unlocking the door much like a keyless entry key fob.

The device won’t work if the car’s keyless entry system has been disabled, but this would have to be done by a mechanic. It obviously also doesn’t work on cars with manual-lock systems.

The device is a hot topic on car forums, where worried owners and curious techies are musing about how it works and how it can be stopped.

Others are shrugging it off, noting that thieves will always find a way to outsmart security.

“I don’t really find it that remarkable,” a DSL Reports forum user called Mattmag said. “We used to do the same thing for free with a bent coathanger.”

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