VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Car thefts are on the rise in Hampton Roads and thieves are using new tactics making it harder to recover your vehicle and catch the culprit.
A mom of two who did not want to be identified was home Tuesday when her white Lexus was stolen from her driveway in broad daylight. When she noticed it was missing, she immediately went to her neighbors to see their Ring video. That’s when they noticed something was off.
A neighbor’s surveillance video captured the moment a black SUV drives up to the Towne Square neighborhood. A young man gets out and slowly walks up the driveway.
“I feel so violated,” the woman told 10 On Your Side as she watched the video of her car driven away from her property.
The video then goes black and skips ahead three minutes. The family says the thieves used a signal jammer to disrupt nearby doorbell cameras. Something Scott Gibson, head of Computer and Information Science at ECPI University, says has been around for decades but is now being used by criminals.
“If I send enough of a bad signal to overwhelm the good signal from that receiving device, I can bring down whatever it’s supposed to do,” Gibson explained.
Wi-Fi systems, especially doorbell cameras connected to Wi-Fi, make for easy targets.
The family tells us they want to share their story to warn others to not let their guard down.
“The way that it makes you feel and it puts you on guard about everything and every stranger around you. It’s just not a good feeling,” the woman said.
In the middle of our interview, the family received a call from a neighbor who saw a post about a stolen car.
“Someone posted and said ‘oh my gosh, if you’re looking for a white Lexus, please call me,’ and she says she just saw some guys ditch a white Lexus,” the women told us.
Their car was abandoned at Graylyn Road and Gravenhurst Drive 10 minutes down the road, car seats missing but in otherwise good condition.
“Oh my god. Thank god it was found,” the woman stated.
Aside from always locking your doors, Gibson recommends hardwiring your security system so jammers can’t affect it.
“It costs a little bit more money but in the long run, you’re safer,” Gibson said.
The family credits the Ring Neighbors app for helping them recover their vehicle. They also plan to use Apple air tags moving forward to make it easier to track their cars.