Police stumped by mystery device used in car break-ins

8:16 PM, Jun 24, 2013   |    comments
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By Kyung Lah, CNN

Police across the country are stumped by a rash of car thefts. In surveillance video of the thefts, criminals appear to open locked cars with a mysterious handheld device.

Nobody, not even the car manufacturers, knows how it works.

In Long Beach, Calif. The man walked up to the car, and used a small box to open it. Right next to him another man, also using a box, opens that car.

The problem is they're thieves without keys. Now they've swiped all valuables from the cars.

In Chicago, it was the exact same scenario. A man by a sedan unlocked it without a key. The alarm was disabled by some mystery device.

The same thing happened to Steven Doi of Corona, Calif. His car's computer system was hacked. But the crook didn't get away clean. Doi's dash-cam, pointing toward the front of his escalade, caught the suspect pacing and holding some mystery box.

"I was like whoa. You see this guy walking back and forth in front of the car," said Doi.

In just 18 seconds the crook emptied out $3,000 worth of electronics.

Mike Bender, ex-police officer and auto theft expert, calls it the latest high tech crime tool hitting New York to Los Angeles.

And like police across the country, he doesn't know exactly what it is.

"The ease that this is working and the frequency we're seeing it reported throughout the U.S., means it's only become a greater problem," said Bender.

He says your car is a rolling computer. What it takes to break in, not sledgehammers, but hacking devices.

But federal agents may be closing on what these boxes are. Law enforcement sources tell CNN that they now have one of these boxes in Texas. They're trying to figure out if this is the same device used in other car burglaries.


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