“There are some people, auto burglars, who actually detect that signal and target your car for that.” –San Jose Police Department
Two major takeaways after reading THIS ARTICLE from Outsideonline.com, thieves in 2019 are using a simple Bluetooth exploit to figure out which vehicles hold devices like smartphones/laptops and they are using this technology to target vehicles parked at trailheads knowing their owners are off on a hike.
The scary thing about Bluetooth scanners is they are simply apps you download legally from the app store. Chose from one of the dozen or so options, download, turn it on and it displays the signal strengths detected.
Once you’ve messed around with it a while, you can gauge distance from the device using the signal strength meter. To make it super simple for the discriminating thief, some apps even display what type of device is detected and include a picture with the model description (old shitty iPhone 3 pass/new MacBook get the crowbar).
The part of this new epidemic that would most interest our audience is the occurrence of these types of break-ins at parking areas near trailheads. One can imagine a thief lying in wait as hikers head out for the day and pulling up a Bluetooth scanner to know exactly which vehicle to break into. My mind also goes to ski resort parking lots where cars are reliably unattended and perfect targets for some scumbag with a scanner.
So what can we do to protect ourselves? If you’re leaving a device in your car make sure to put it on airplane mode or even better turn it off completely. Simple as that, once you cut off your Bluetooth signal your device will be invisible to potential thieves. So be safe out there this winter and make sure if you leave a device unattended it isn’t broadcasting its location to sleazebag burglars.