Misplaced Car Fobs Eyed in Luxury Car Thefts

Police say thieves may have had a fob-detecting device in the thefts of luxury cars from Hudson Valley driveways

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Police say the thieves are using a special device to steal luxury wheels in a part of the Hudson Valley. Chris Glorioso reports (Published Monday, Dec 12, 2011)

    Luxury cars have been vanishing from Hudson Valley driveways at an alarming rate in the past month, and police think thieves are hacking into their keyless entry systems.

    In the latest heist, someone stole three BMWs worth a total of $220,000, all from the same driveway in Dobbs Ferry.

    Each of the luxury cars had a push-button ignition system, according to Dobbs Ferry police Lt. James Guernieri. The starter doesn't work unless its accompanying fob is in or near the car.

    Homeowner Susan Katz said her husband had moved all the cars on Saturday morning to make room for Christmas decorations, and that he left a fob in each car.

    "My husband, who'd just been out, had moved all the cars," Katz said. "We were about to decorate outside, so he'd left them there."

    "You got these nice cars in your driveway, and you're feeling safe and secure," she said.

    Luxury auto dealers have long touted the keyless-entry technology on their websites. The systems allow drivers to open locked doors and start the ignition without having to fish in their pockets for a keychain.

    The "key" to a keyless entry is a fob that emits radio signals so a person's vehicle knows it's the owner's hand that's touching the handle.

    The problem is some drivers leave the fobs in their cars, allowing anyone to unlock a door and drive off.

    That's what happened to Katz, who said her husband left three fobs inside the three BMWs. And she apparently wasn't the only one: in just the last month, police said thieves have stolen eight high-end vehicles in the Hudson Valley alone.

    According to police, on Nov. 10 in Dobbs Ferry, a 2011 Range Rover disappeared; on Nov. 11 in Irvington, two more luxury vehicles vanished; on Nov. 18 in New Castle, a 2009 BMW M3 was stolen; on Saturday, the trio of BMWs vanished from Katz's driveway, and that same morning, in nearby Irvington, a Mercedes GL 450 was stolen.

    Drivers had left fobs in all of them, police said.

    Even though Katz said all three of her BMWs -- a 2012 X5, a 2011 335i and a 2007 M5 -- had tracking chips, she suspects the vehicles are already on a boat headed overseas.

    Dobbs Ferry police urge anyone who owns a newer vehicle with a fob-entry system to keep track of the fob, and to never leave it in or near the vehicle.

    "I think from now on, everybody's gonna be less trusting and they'll be locking things up," said Gary Lee, a resident in the area.