Auto theft investigators around the world are increasingly concerned about the use of electronic devices to break into otherwise locked vehicles.
So says the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which conducted an unscientific, live poll of a mostly law-enforcement audience at the recent 63rd Annual Training Seminar of the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators.
According to the results, 74 percent of respondents said they believe the devices can be used to unlock a vehicle. Just 26 percent said they don’t believe the devices work.
About 36 percent said they believe the devices – dubbed “mystery devices” by the NICB – could be used to rev up and steal a vehicle. The NICB was quick to point out in its release, however, that there aren’t yet any confirmed vehicle theft reports where this technique came into play.
Just 8 percent of respondents said they had seen the use of a device to break into or start a car.
About a year ago, the NICB issued an initial bulletin warning against the use of hand-held high-tech electronic devices to steal newer, locked cars – many of which rely on electronics systems for everything from door locks to starting the engine.
NICB Chief Operating Officer Jim Schweitzer noted in prepared remarks that the issue was “barely a blip on the radar” for theft investigators and law enforcement officials last August. Now, he said, the issue is “getting everyone’s attention, including the manufacturers who are the front line of defense against these devices.”
The NICB is a non-profit group focused on spotting and combatting insurance fraud and vehicle theft through the use of data analytics, investigations, training, legislative advocacy and public awareness. More than 1,100 property/casualty companies and self-insured organizations support the organization.