Thieves opening cars by remote

2011-03-05 00:00

TECH-SAVVY thieves are striking at parking lots across Pietermaritzburg, jamming signals sent by remotes to car locks and then stealing any valuables left in the vehicles while the owners shop.

As a result centres like Liberty Midlands Mall have issued warnings to customers to be extra careful when locking their vehicles and ensuring that they are in fact locked before they walk away.

The thieves simply press the button on a gate remote to block the signal sent similtaneously from the car’s key by its owner.

The scam has been reported at Victoria Shopping Centre in Victoria Road and Parklane Spar in Greyling Street.

Security guards at the centres have confirmed several incidents.

A warning in the February issue of the Liberty Mall’s Mall Talk supplement stated: “This new tactic has given thieves the opportunity to steal valuables out of various makes and models of cars without having to gain entry forcibly.

“Ensure you see the lock button depress and check your door handle to verify that your car is locked.”

An e-mail doing the rounds also warns about the trick, which has also been reported in Durban.

“What is apparently happening is that these chaps sit and watch you.

“When you press your remote to lock your car, they press a gate control remote, which interferes with your locking mechanism frequency on your car remote and your car does not lock.

“As soon as you are out of sight, they help themselves to what they want from your car, without forced entry,” reads the e-mail.

The e-mail said Parklane and Victoria Shopping Centre are hotspots for the crime.

A security guard at Victoria Shopping Centre said they had an incident at the centre last week. The centre’s operational manager Rheinier du Plooy said the incident was reported to his office. He said the victim was advised to report the matter to the police. He said extra security guards have been posted..

Security officers at Parklane said they have been instructed to patrol parking bays frequently. One security guard said a motorist became a victim on Wednesday.

“That was not the first incident, but I won’t give you details because I’m not allowed,” said the guard.

However, Parklane manager Denzil Greenland denied that such an incident had take place at the centre.

“The first I heard was when I opened my e-mail,” said Greenland.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan said the crime has been reported at Liberty Midlands Mall, Parklane, Victoria Shopping Centre and St Anne’s Hospital.

She said no one has so far been arrested.

“We want to put out a warning to motorists to ensure to physically check if the doors are locked,” she said.

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