April 22, 2016

Car Break-ins Rising in Las Vegas

car break-ins in las vegas

Local Statistics on Las Vegas Car Theft & Break-ins

Car theft is rising in the Las Vegas metro area. According to Metro Police, over 1,500 cars have been reported stolen this year, an increase of 20 percent over last year. These numbers don’t include car burglary or break-ins in which criminals decided not to steal the car, which have also been rampant.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, one car is stolen per hour on average in the city.

Break-ins on the Rise

Police say that most car break-ins are crimes of opportunity. Criminals are drawn to valuable-looking items. Wrapped packages, backpacks, laptop cases, and purses catch their eye. If they see a garage door opener, they may break into your car to gain access to your house.

Make sure to remove or hide any of these items when you leave your car unattended. Thieves may also use the personal information on your insurance and registration documents to steal your identity, so it’s a good idea to keep these with you rather than leaving them in your car. The most common break-in method is to simply smash a car’s window to gain access to the interior. This method works best on older cars that don’t have advanced security systems.

Who’s Car is Most at Risk

You might assume luxury cars are most at risk for theft. Unexpectedly, the most commonly stolen cars in Nevada are actually 1990s Hondas.

That’s not to say that modern cars are completely safe. A recent video out of the Las Vegas Hack Conference showed car thieves using a mysterious device to unlock a late model car without breaking the windows or leaving any evidence. Although the device used in this specific instance is not known, thieves use several relatively simple methods to exploit the faults in hi-tech car security systems.

Cars with smart keys or keyless entry systems are particularly vulnerable. In 2012, a video emerged of car thieves in the UK unlocking an expensive BMW in 3 minutes by gaining access to its onboard diagnostics (ODB) port and using data from the OBD to program a clone of the car’s keyless remote.

Keyless Entry Lends Itself to Break-ins

More recently, thieves have been seen using simple $17 power amplifiers to steal Toyota and Lexus cars with keyless entry. The criminals simply stand next to the car and amplify its signal, enabling it to communicate with the wireless key at a greater distance. If you are at home or in a store close to the car, it will unlock. If your car has keyless entry, the best way to protect it is by placing it in a faraday cage. This will prevent it from communicating with your car when you are in your home.

Although a faraday cage might sound like a fancy piece of equipment, a normal home freezer works perfectly fine. Car thieves can be punished severely in Nevada. If someone steals vehicles worth more than $3,500, they can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and fined up to $10,000. Breaking into a car and taking valuables comes with a burglary charge, a Class B felony with the same sentencing guidelines as car theft.