Car thieves have been around forever, and used to just smash out a window to steal vehicles of choice. Unfortunately, they have been able to up their game recently and have gone high-tech. Tap or click here to see how hackers are now stealing keyless cars.
It’s not just cars that criminals are after, but also the valuables left inside. That’s why any time we have something of value with us, we hide it under the seat when we run errands.
Sadly, that simple technique no longer works. If you have electronics in your car, thieves can track them. Keep reading to find out why and how to stay protected.
Technology helping common car thieves
A new phenomenon has made its way to car theft. Criminals are using Bluetooth scanners to find electronics hiding inside cars to rip them off.
Here’s how it works: Most devices are constantly sending Bluetooth signals so they can potentially pair with other devices. There are now Bluetooth scanning apps that make these signals easier to find.
And that’s exactly what criminals are doing. Instead of randomly breaking into a car, hoping it has expensive laptops, tablets or smartphones hiding in them, they are using Bluetooth scanners to remove the guesswork.
All a crook needs to do is have one of these apps on their device, make their way through a parking lot or garage and look for devices sending out Bluetooth signals. Once they pick up on a signal, it’s a simple smash and grab.
Merritt Baer, a Principal Security Architect with Amazon Web Services, recently shared an unfortunate situation like this on Twitter. She said colleagues had their car broken into while they were at dinner. Here’s the tweet:
Colleagues had a car broken into and laptops stolen in downtown Mountain View last night while we were at dinner. We wondered how they knew to break into the hatchback when it is not see- through.— Merritt Baer (@MerrittBaer) October 17, 2019
They turn on bluetooth scanners and follow the beacon to find electronics.
Last year, an officer with the San Jose Police Department addressed the Bluetooth scanner issue on the social media site Nextdoor.
Lieutenant Joe Donleavy said, “When a person attempts to hide their laptop computer or other electronic devices under a car seat or in a glove box out of sight, it’s possible for a Bluetooth scanner to let a thief know that an electronic device is in that car.”
This makes total sense. Why take the risk of breaking into a vehicle if you don’t know something of value is inside? Thankfully, you don’t have to be a victim. Here are a few simple ways to avoid falling victim.
Outsmarting a Bluetooth thief
Since Bluetooth scanning apps are so easy to use and are readily available, it’s a good bet we’ll see car thefts significantly rise in the very near future. That’s why it’s crucial to take matters into your own hands to protect your devices.
The best way to avoid being robbed is to plan ahead. If you know you’re going to be making stops at the grocery store or other retailers, don’t take a bunch of tech gear with you. Leave that laptop and tablet at home or in the office while running errands.
Adjust the settings
If you do have gadgets in the car and can’t take them with you, make sure they’re not able to be detected by Bluetooth scanners. The best way to do this is by adjusting their settings.
There are a few ways to keep Bluetooth from sending a signal from your devices. Here they are:
- Turn off Bluetooth – This is a simple solution, as long as you can trust it to stay off. I don’t know about you, but there have been times where I turned Bluetooth off on my gadget and it ends up turning itself on later.
- Power it down – You can power down the device to keep it from sending Bluetooth signals.
- Airplane mode is your friend – Put the devices into airplane mode. When activated, airplane mode suspends radio frequency signal transmission, which disables Bluetooth.
It’s official: 2019 is on track to be the worst year yet for your security. There’s a new data breach around every corner! Your phone, computer and other smart devices are constantly bombarded by dangerous malware. So how can you stay safe? Subscribe to Kim’s free Fraud & Security Alerts newsletter. You’ll learn about data breaches, recalled products and security alerts before anyone else.