HOUSTON -- Neighbors in Oak Forest and Mangum Manor are reaching the same conclusion after a mysterious wave of car break-ins.
Dozens of victims have reported their cars being broken into in recent weeks. What links these cases together is that all of the victims claim their car doors were locked.
Victims have reported no signs of forced entry into their vehicles and no trace of any damage. Many believe the criminals are using some sort of mystery gadget to unlock car doors.
“They got in and out with no damage at all and even locked the door behind them,” said Curt Smith, whose truck was broken into.
Curt Smith suspects the thieves are using a sophisticated electronic gadget to essentially hack into car systems.
“I don’t know if they drive down the street and see whose opens or what. I don’t know how it works, but it works pretty good,” Smith said. “It’s hard to fathom, but I think it’s happening. I have no idea how they’re going to stop it.”
Houston Police told KHOU there is no evidence to prove that such a device is being used in the Houston area.
However, authorities from coast to coast are investigating reports of the high-tech crime tool being used.
“The ease that this is working, and the frequency we’re seeing it reported throughout the US, means it’s only become a greater problem,” said ex-police officer and auto theft expert Mike Bender.
Surveillance video from Long Beach California shows the mystery device being put to work. A man is seen walking up to a car, using a small palm-sized box and opening up the door.
Right next to him, another man is also seen using a box and opening the door to a different car.
Similar video has also surfaced in the Chicago area.
“It’s obviously a problem. They need to at least address it,” said Kelly Lesser, who had two cars broken into in one night.
Lesser said she and her husband were completely stumped by the break-ins of both their vehicles.
“We lock everything. We turn alarms on. We are very conscious about it. We know for a fact that we locked those doors,” Lesser said.
A number of victims targeted in Oak Forest and Mangum Manor did not file police reports. That’s because no damage was done to their cars and very minimal was taken.
HPD said that makes it difficult for investigators to monitor any possible trend.
Federal authorities are now working with car manufacturers to try to figure out what technology the thieves are using.