SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ — The Scotch Plains police department is warning the public about how thieves are increasingly using technology to steal motor vehicle thefts in the township:

The bad guys have figured out a way to use an app that finds key fobs that are left inside vehicles. Then, the criminals test the doors of the cars to see if they are unlocked. If the keys are inside and the doors are open, they have found an easy target.

“Over the past few weeks we have been experiencing vehicle thefts in town. Several vehicles were left unlocked with the key fobs left inside, making the theft an easy one,” Scotch Plains police chief Ted Conley said. “I suggest that residents remain vigilant in locking and securing their homes and vehicles.”

Sign Up for E-News

The chief suggests keeping the fob inside homes a safe distance away from their car if it is parked in the driveway and not secured. Leaving the key near a front door that is unlocked makes it easy for a thief to come in, quickly grab the key fob, and then make off with your car. 

“The fob gives off a signal. That's how you can open the door or even start your car with a fob. The apps that thieves are using can read the signal,” Conley explained in an interview with TAPintoSPF. “If the fob is left in an open car or near an unlocked front door, it's an easy target.”

The National Insurance Crime Bureau offers the following tips to prevent auto theft:

  1. Use Common Sense: Lock your doors and remove your keys from the ignition. Park in well-lit areas.
  2. Invest in a tracking system: A tracking system emits a signal to the police or monitoring service when the vehicle is reported stolen. If the vehicle is moved, the system will alert the owner and the vehicle can be tracked by computer.