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A warning about cars’ keyless entry systems, how to protect yourself from thieves

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SEATTLE -- Experts are issuing a warning to drivers who have cars with keyless entry system. They say you may want to change where you keep your electronic fobs, so thieves don’t use the technology against you.

Jasmine Vandelac has watched her surveillance video several times, but she still doesn’t understand how thieves were able to get into the cars on her driveway in just seconds.

“We know we locked the doors. We didn`t see them using any kind of device to open it through the window,” she says. “Just boom, they opened the doors.”

She’s glad the thieves didn’t break her windows, but she still wants to know how they broke in. The answer could be her electronic key fob.

“What we’re finding is that the key fobs we have for our cars send off a radio signal,” says AAA spokeswoman Jennifer Cook. “Thieves have found a way to extend that radio signal that goes between your key fob and your car.”

So even if your fob was inside your house, an extender or amplifier would make your car think it was close by. The doors would unlock.

“You used to have a wire, you slid down the window when it was mechanical,” says car prowl victim Tom Dahl. “Now it`s electronic.”

“If this technology becomes easily available to criminals you're going to see it spread,” says Lars Carlson, another victim. “At this point, there's not a whole lot we can do to protect ourselves.”

But experts say you can protect yourself by changing where you keep your keys.

“When you’re storing your key fob at home, put it into a metal box," says Cook. "Don’t put it in the freezer or the microwave where it can be ruined, but some type of metal box. That way it will stop the signal from being extended.”

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