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Discussion Starter #1
This is a new one for me...

Short version: I have good reason to believe that someone is systematically going around, unlocking RAV4s electronically in my neighborhood to steal stuff from them.

When I bought my 2016 RAV4 Hybrid Limited (new), it was my first "push button start" car and also my first with keyless locking/fobs. I initially expressed some concern over how secure these systems were, and folks here poo-pooed my concerns, assuring me that cars that lock/unlock/start electronically were far more secure than old, keyed locks and ignitions. My worries were misplaced, I was told. OK, I thought, just me being obsessive, not the first time.

I had read about thieves having some systems that could unlock cars (electronically) at will, and saw people selling "Faraday cage" bags for key fobs, read about people putting their key fobs in microwave ovens or tinfoil bags. Of course, I figured these people were all crazy.

Then, something strange happened. As luck would have it, my next door neighbors also have a RAV4 (not sure what year/model, but probably new or newish).

I washed my car yesterday, tidied up the interior, parked it in front of my house, locked it and went inside. I'm pretty obsessive about locking the car. My city (Seattle) and my neighborhood, has been experiencing a big increase in crime. My wife's old car (a Honda Civic) was stolen by meth heads from right in front of our house about 3 years ago (this left her car trashed, was totaled by the insurance company, she ended up buying a new Prius). So I'm a bit paranoid, and always double- and triple-check I've locked it.

I go out the door to my car today, open it up and hop in. First I notice the contents of my glovebox have been dumped and scattered on the floor. I notice my seat is waaaaaay back, like in position for someone 7 feet tall to drive. Next I see that my armrest storage box has also been rifled through. Get out and explore further back. Yep, seat pockets all emptied and scattered (flashlight, sunshade, etc), stuff that was on the back seat or under the front seats (sweatshirt, raincoat, umbrella) all scattered, same with a few small items from the far back. Of course I left nothing of any value in the car, but someone obviously went through every inch of the car and rooted through every nook and cranny. The only thing that were taken were a few small items (swiss army knife, multi-tool, 1-to-2 DC power plug/splitter). Fortunately, there's no damage to anything. No scratches, so sign of a forced entry. No broken glass. I recall that even if I had mistakenly left the car unlocked (I was pretty sure I had not), if left unattended, it locks itself after a few minutes. Hmmm.

I went to my next door neighbor's house just to give them a heads-up, warning them not to leave anything valuable in their parked car because the scumbags would steal it. I explained what happened to my car overnight. To my surprise, my neighbor said: "Oh yeah, we had the same thing happen this morning too...I was sure I locked the car last night, but when I went to drive this morning, everything from my glove box was scattered around the car."

They have a RAV4, too.

My wife has a Prius. Her car was parked between my RAV4 and our neighbor's RAV4. Her car was NOT opened and rifled through - nothing in her car showed any sign of being disturbed (and she has a lot more stuff in her car's glove box, center console, and back seats).

Based on these facts, it seems pretty evident to me that some slimeball in my city has a device that unlocks RAV4s (but does not unlock all Toyotas) and they hit my street last night.

I suspect that if I walked the next few blocks and look for parked RAV4s, the owners would tell me they had the same experience. I didn't have time to do that today, but will take that walk tomorrow.

Is this - a "break-in device" a known thing?

Is there any way to defeat this
(besides sleeping in my car with a shotgun)?
We do not have a garage (old houses in our neighborhood, it's mostly on-street parking).

I feel violated (I know, every crime victim says this). It pisses me off.

Suggestions for ways to keep these dirtbags out of my car?
 

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You can disable the fob (battery saving mode) by holding the lock button down and pressing the unlock button twice, the LED will blink 4 times and the fob will be disabled, then the signal can't be hijacked, we disable ours regularly. Press a button to enable.
 

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A few years ago I worked in a facility at the border with Mexico along with Miexican citizens who crossed the border each day to work.. They said that Mexican car thieves have devices which can hack almost any vehicle security system. Probably explains the high vehicle theft rate in SoCal especially with some makes. Some of my co-workers had even their cars stolen.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the replies.

So, is there a clear consensus that the vulnerability is all with the key fob (and only with the key fob)?
 

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This device will just be getting more common. It allows driving the car away, not just opening the doors. See how it is used here to steal a Tesla:

 

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The solution is to close the car from the fob, by holding "lock" and double pressing "unlock" button (which locks the car while also putting remote into sleep mode). Or by keeping the fob inside of a shielded container at home.
 

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This device will just be getting more common. It allows driving the car away, not just opening the doors. See how it is used here to steal a Tesla:

This can't happen if the remote is in battery saving mode(see post #3) or is in a metal container( see post #2).
 

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This is a new one for me...

Short version: I have good reason to believe that someone is systematically going around, unlocking RAV4s electronically in my neighborhood to steal stuff from them.

Suggestions for ways to keep these dirtbags out of my car?
I feel like the maxim: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that they aren't out to get you! Applies here.

Security is mostly a psychological field. For any device you come up with that will make something "secure" you have a more clever person who's motivated to get past it! Never mind your FOB, what about your glass!

My brother had a convertible mustang back in the early 2000's. Twice he had his roof cut to steal the change in his center console. Hundreds of dollars to repair each time. After that he decided to leave the doors unlocked... clever idea but the thieves didn't bother to check to see if it was unlocked and still cut his roof! His convertible was totaled in an accident and he hasn't bought a convertible again.

Many moons ago my coworker had their truck broken into to steal the factory radio. They smashed the window even though the doors were unlocked.

I guess what i'm saying is don't leave anything of value in your car if you're in a high crime area. Be grateful they aren't damaging the vehicle. Sure try the methods suggested but a desperate criminal is likely to just smash your glass!
 
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