How thieves are using new tech to steal cars with the push of a button

TULSA, Okla. — If you push a button to start your car, it can only take thieves second to steal your vehicle.

Tulsa Police said there are three main reasons thieves steal a car: to joyride, to sell or scrap it for profit or to commit other crimes.

No matter the reasons, police explained car thieves are always on the hunt. Now, they’re getting tech savvy.

Keith Perkins owns L1 Automotive. It’s a repair shop that focuses on advanced systems in vehicles.

“How we feel that a fob is safer, [but] that’s half as safe as a key,” Perkins told FOX23.

He added that it only takes seconds for a thief to steal your car after stealing information from a key fob.

They steal the information with a device similar to one that steals information from a credit card. Once the thief has the information, they can start the car without the key. The device only allows thieves to start the car once, but it’s enough to get that car off the lot.

Tulsa Police said they see this happen, but it’s not all that often. Lt. Chase Calhoun explained the most common stolen cars occur from ignition pops or when people leave their keys in the car.

“Historically, we have been the number one city in the state of Oklahoma for auto theft,” Calhoun said.

And that trend is still true. Tulsa is ranked as the 10th city in the U.S. for auto theft rates by the Insurance Information Institute.

It’s a fact that keeps Calhoun and his team busy.

“We have five detectives in our unit who are working over five thousand auto thefts a year,” he explained.

So far this year, Tulsa Police have seen approximately 1,650 auto thefts.

According to data FOX23 requested from Tulsa Police, the most common areas for the car theft in the city are near 48th and Yale, 67th and S Lewis, 78th and S Lewis and 49th and Memorial.

Calhoun said the higher rates are most likely due to high foot and traffic volumes in those areas.

“Anytime you have a high volume of vehicles in an area, you’re going to have higher auto thefts in that area,” he explained.

But at the end of the day, cars can be stolen anywhere.

To prevent auto theft, police suggested the following tips:

  • Never leave keys in the car
  • Always lock the car
  • Put a tracking device on the car
  • Install a kill switch in the car
  • Invest in other anti-theft devices

Also, if you have a push start car, Perkins said to keep the fob in a central location.

“The easiest thing is to keep the key centralized in your house, away from doors and windows, external things,” he said. “Those devices that pick up that key data typically work in two to three foot distance.”