NBC News Breathlessly Reports Car Thieves Use High Tech Gadgets

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Gee, what else might they have been ignoring for the past few years?

I just had to laugh out loud, literally, when I saw a report from NBC News recently. The video is included so you can have a laugh too, but I sincerely hope you already know everything breathlessly reported. The lead is car thieves are using advanced technology to steal cars, but the thing they focus on is sadly old news, so the end result is they look pretty foolish.

Watch our interview with a car detailer here.

In the report, the reporter dramatically narrates as video shows two guys boosting a Cadillac Escalade from the owner’s driveway at night. One thief is holding a box right by the garage door, capturing the signal from the key fob sitting on a nightstand, hanging on a peg in the kitchen, or wherever it is in the house. The second guy is standing right next to the luxury SUV with a second device which replicates the captured signal, tricking the vehicle into believing the key is right there.

But this report fails to dig into several issues. First, they don’t really explain how to protect yourself from this sort of scheme. The reporter mentions a box from Home Depot you can buy to put the fob inside, or “tinned cans” to block the signal. Why don’t they explain what a Faraday cage is and mention you can get purses, small bags, etc. from all kinds of retailers, not just Home Depot? Hell, you can even drop your key in a Doritos bag and block the fob’s signal.

What really makes me roll my eyes at this report is it makes zero mention of thieves reprogramming ignitions or even installing a new module so they can just swipe a vehicle without capturing the fob’s signal. That’s incredibly common these days and can be done in just a few minutes.

That leads to the final point: nothing is mentioned about the car theft crime wave being fueled by organized crime rings, many of them operating internationally. NBC News makes it sound like these are just small-time crooks who build these basic devices or buy them online and that’s it. The fact is a lot of vehicles are stolen by kids recruited by these criminal organizations who train them how to steal cars quickly and efficiently. Shining a light on that part of the problem, even if just for a moment, would help educate the public about the root cause of the problem. Instead, they do what’s just a few steps away from a fluff piece, giving viewers some false sense of security, like a Faraday cage will stop all theft.

At least NBC News acknowledges “this type of crime” isn’t a new phenomenon. While they’ve been keeping up on all the important issues like what Britney Spears had for lunch, criminals have been targeting their viewers who were likely blithely unaware of the risks. To be fair, NBC News flashes back to a report from 2016, but what coverage have they given to this crime wave in the past six years? I’d argue not nearly enough and everyone should be asking why.

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