Police: Men use key fob ‘extender’ in string of Mt. Adams car break-ins

Police: Men use key fob ‘extender’ in string of Mt. Adams car break-ins

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A series of car break-ins has neighbors in Mt. Adams feeling torn. Do you lock your car doors or leave your car unlocked to save thieves from smashing through your windows?

Some neighbors are weighing the pros and cons near the corner of Ida and Paradrome streets, where just a few days ago a neighbor’s security camera caught two men walking around using what neighbors say is called a key fob “extender.” It’s a device police say thieves can use to hijack the wireless signal from your fob inside your house, get in and steal your car in less than 60 seconds.

According to the police report, Sarah Stromaier's security cam captured a white Ford Explorer SUV, driven by two men. They were working the block neighbors tell us, aiming their key fob extender, trying to unlock car doors.

Strohmaier shared the images on the Next Door app hoping that someone would recognize them. When they were unable to get into one man’s SUV, the victim tells us the bad guys smashed a 20 lb. boulder from a construction project next door through his windows and the inner console, causing $10,000 damage. And even more frustrating, the victim said there was nothing inside to steal. He added this was the second time this has happened to him in the last six months.

The previous incident was also several thousand dollars.

“On Saturday (3/9) around 2:45 a.m., a white SUV pulled into the lot on Ida Street and two men were checking locks on cars on Ida Street (including ours in our driveway near the Ida Street bridge). A half hour later, a loud crash and a car alarm is heard. The next day, we found out that a car in the lot across had a concrete block thrown into the vehicle,” said Strohmaier on her Next Door app post.

"I'm surprised to hear it, because I've never had any issues up here, since I've been here," said Steve Rusche, who parks in the same lot as the victim.

(Source: WXIX)

So how do the thieves get in without breaking the windows? In a YouTube video from a UK police department, you can clearly see two men approach a Mercedes and a family’s home, waving a device toward the garage door. That device searches for, finds, and relays a signal from a wireless key fob inside the victim’s home. Then all the thief needs to do is hop in, start the car and take off.

“I lock my car, I put things away so no one can see, I don’t keep anything in the car,” said Sam Weismann.

She saw a Jeep damaged on St. Gregory.

“Their window was smashed and I don’t know what was taken, but I went to work one morning and saw that,” she said.

Neighbors also report someone popping dozens of tires along Fuller Street. And locking cars or not, it may not matter.

"They're gonna get in no matter what," sighed Weismann.

One thing to keep in mind with those key fob extenders, police say they will only work on cars with a wireless ignition.

How can you stop it? There’s something you can buy online called a Faraday sleeve. It’s a pouch that will block radio transmissions. They run about $100.

Keeping your fob in one at your house should protect you, also one in your purse, so if you’re inside somewhere shopping, your fob signal can’t be high jacked if you’re in range of your car.

Contact police if you see a suspicious white Ford Explorer in the area with two men.

Here’s the description given to police of one of the men: black or dark brown hair, white shoes, age 18 to 30 years old, thin build, darker skin tone, male, with a goatee. The other: dark hair, black hoodie with white shoulders, dark shoes, black skin, age 18 to 30, thin build, male, wore a red baseball cap.

The vehicle involved was a white Ford Explorer SUV.

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