Criminals are now using scanner boxes to pop some factory-made electronic locks in seconds, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). The devices use technology for keyless car entry, which drivers typically use for easy one-click access to their vehicle or to prevent getting locked out.
“Our law enforcement partners tell us they are seeing this type of criminal activity and have recovered some of the illegal devices,” Joe Wehrle, NICB’s president, said. “And unfortunately, some of these devices are available on the internet.”
USA Today reported that the technology may be linked to car burglaries that recently occurred in Long Beach, CA when police said an “unknown technology” had allowed a trio of thieves to easily access eight vehicles in a single night.
According to the NICB, drivers should take the following precautions to protect themselves:
- Lock your vehicle no matter where you leave it.
- Close windows and sun roofs.
- Hide tempting items, including navigation systems (along with their suction cup mounts), phone or electronic device adaptors and power plugs.
- Put shopping bags in the trunk.
- Conceal visible cargo.
What Comprehensive Coverage Does — and Doesn’t — Cover
Comprehensive coverage covers drivers if their vehicle is stolen. But this gets trickier when it comes to car break-ins like the ones described above.
In the case of break-in, comprehensive coverage only applies to permanent parts of your vehicle like your car window, locks or catalytic converter that are stolen or damaged in the incident.
In some cases, even your car stereo isn't guaranteed to be covered, according to Progressive.
Other items stolen from a car in a vehicle burglary, like purses and wallets, are not covered by auto insurance. You’ll need homeowners insurance coverage, or renters or condo, to cover those kinds of losses.
The NICB also advocates vehicle identification number (VIN) etching, which reduces the chance of thefts of cars and car parts. Additionally, some insurance providers also offer car insurance discounts for VIN-etched vehicles.