HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - merchants slogan: "We don't have it but we can get it for you."

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Now whether these two missives I received by e mail are based in fact or not or whether they are, as some of them are --"Urban myths" anew, I have no way of knowing, but I think it best to pass these on to make anyone who reads my blog more aware of just what could be going on "out there".

Here's the first:

This gives us something to think about with all our new electronic technology.

A couple of weeks ago a friend told me that someone she knew had their car broken into while they were at a sporting event. Their car was parked in the lot which was adjacent to the arena and specially allotted to basketball fans.

Things stolen from the car included a garage door remote control, some money and a GPS which had been prominently mounted on the dashboard.

When the victims got home, they found that their house had been ransacked and just about everything worth anything had been stolen.

The thieves had used the GPS to guide them to the house. They then used the garage remote control to open the garage door and gain entry to the house. The thieves knew the owners were at the game, they knew about what time the game was scheduled to finish and so they knew how much time they had to clean out the house. It would appear that they had brought a truck to empty the house of its contents.


I never thought of this....... This lady has now changed her habit of how she lists her names on her mobile phone after her handbag was stolen. Her handbag, which contained her cell phone, credit card, wallet... Etc... Was stolen.

20 minutes later when she called her hubby, from a pay phone telling him what had happened, hubby says 'I received your text asking about our Pin number and I've replied a little while ago.'

When they rushed down to the bank, the bank staff told them all the money was already withdrawn. The thief had actually used the stolen cell phone to text 'hubby' in the contact list and got hold of the pin number. Within 20 minutes he had withdrawn all the money from their bank account.

Moral of the lesson: Do not disclose the relationship between you and the people in your contact list. Avoid using names like Home, Honey, Hubby, Sweetheart, Dad, Mom, etc.... And very importantly, when sensitive info is being asked through texts, CONFIRM by calling back. Also, when you're being text by friends or family to meet them somewhere, be sure to call back to confirm that the message came from them. If you don't reach them, be very careful about going places to meet 'family and friends' who text you.

And then there is this one:

I locked my car --- as I walked away I heard my car door unlock. I went
back and locked my car again -- THREE TIMES. I looked around and there
were two guys sitting in a car in the fire lane next to the store.
When I looked straight at them they did not unlock my car again.

While traveling, my son stopped at a roadside park. He came out to his
car less than 4-5 minutes later and found someone had gotten into his
car and stolen his cell phone, laptop computer, GPS navigator
briefcase.....you name it ...

He called the police and since there were no signs of his car being
broken into, the police told him that there is
a device that robbers are using now to clone your security code when
you lock your doors on your car using your push button locking device
on your key chain.

They sit a distance away and watch for their next victim. They know
you are going inside of the store, restaurant, or bathroom and have a
few minutes to steal and run.

How to lock your car safely: The police officer said thee is only one way
to safely lock you car-by hitting the lock button inside the car.
That way if there is someone sitting in a parking lot
watching for their next victim it will not be you.

When you hit the lock button on your car
upon exiting, it does not send the security code, but if you walk
away and use the door locking device on your key chain it sends the code
through the airwaves where it can be stolen, something totally new to

Be aware of this and please pass this note on.. Think how
many times we all lock our doors with our remote...just to be sure we
remembered to lock them....and bingo someone has our code...and
whatever was in the car...is GONE!


As I say, I have no proof that either of these situations are real. I suppose I could call local law enforcement.

Now that I think about it, this afternoon, my cousin, a detective with the Altoona police department, is doing our taxes. I will try to remember to ask him if he's heard about this.


While we were having our taxes worked on, I asked my cousin the policeman about the "code grabbers" and he was familiar with the concept and that it is real.

Then I got an e mail from my friend Suzi Kittson in Wausau who pointed me to Snopes.com which gave this information:

Automobile remote keyless entry systems (RKE) were introduced in the 1980's. They've proved a big hit, making it easier for the grocery laden to unlock their cars and sparing many of the terminally forgetful from finding they've left their keys in the ignitions of their now locked cars or their purses on the seats of same.

The earliest RKE systems were quite vulnerable to the sort of attacks described above. Thier RF transmitters (usually built into key fobs) sent unique identifying codes taht could be picked off by "code grabbers", devices that recorded the codes sent out when drivers pushed buttons on their remote key fobs to lock or unlock their cars.

However, times change and technology advances. In response to the fixed code security weakness, automakers shifted from RKEs with fixed codes to systems employing rolling random codes. These codes change every time a given RKE system is used to lock or unlock car doors and thus renders "code grabbers" ineffective. That form of more robust code system became the industry standard for RKE systems in the mid 1990's, so automobiles newer than that are not vulnerable to being quickly and easily opened by criminals armed with code grabbers.

It is still theoretically possible for a very determined thief armed with the right technology and the ability to manipulate it correctly to snatch a key code from the air and use it to enter a vehicle. However, the complexity and length of time involved in that process means your typical crook can't simply grab an RKE code in a parking lot and open up the corresponding car within a minute or two: the would-be thief would need specialized knowledge and equipment and would have to spend hours (if not days) crunching data and replicating a device to produce the correct entry code and by that time you would be long gone..


In these economic hard times, be assured that thievery is up. However, parking lot break-ins will still be more often done with the tried and true: slim jim, crow bar, lock punch.

Here is the best advice. Lock your car - but don't leave GPS, purse, wallet, check book, IPod, etc in plain sight. Either take them with you or hide them well within the vehicle.


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