(NBC) You’ve heard police preach the message over and over — make sure your car doors are locked.
There is a new way thieves are breaking into your cars, as if they had their own key.
Across the country, detectives watching video of car break-ins have noticed an alarming trend.
Thieves, simply opening locked doors and stealing stuff, as if they had your electronic remote.
Nick Bilton saw two teens walk up to his car in Los Angeles.
“She had a backpack on and pulled out a device and then somehow unlocked the car…” said Bilton
It may have been similar a gadget seized in north Texas.
Police say they stumbled across it during a traffic stop and later learned the two suspects were car thieves.
“Basically they use it to try to mimic the signal that your key fob sends to your car to tell it ‘unlock your doors. as you know, one gm key fob is not going to work on another one. but I believe this one goes through a sequence of transmissions until it gets the right one to unlock the doors.” says Jesse Minton of Auto Crimes task force
And there are other ways hackers are outsmarting your lock.
Some use so-called “power amplifiers” to boost your remote’s signal.
Security expert Jeff Zisner says even if your key is safely inside your house, your car is fooled by the amplified signal.
Basically, the car thinks the key is closer than it really is and the door will open.
“It’s not just your valuables inside your car you need to worry about. if thieves can somehow get into your door, in many cases they can also pop your trunk.” says reporter Scott Gordon
Most devices won’t allow thieves to start your car, only unlock the doors.
In some California neighborhoods hard hit by the “power amplifier” scam, people are actually putting their keys in microwaves or refrigerators to cut off the signal.
But with thieves armed with so many electronic tricks, police offer this advice, to not leave valuables in your car.
A common-sense solution to a high-tech crime.
On many late model cars, experts tell us you can easily disable the remote key system.
It’s more difficult for older vehicles –and in those cases you may want to consult your dealer.