Brainstorm with me: DIY bait car

Thank you!

Two Ecolink Z-Wave Door sensors ordered. If they can’t be made to work in the car they’ll certainly have use around my home.

I’m thinking about using an old smartphone for my video device. Could possibly be automated to record on door open sensor? And no further investment required or great loss if stolen, it just sits in a drawer at present. A hard reset and I wouldn’t lose sleep if it was stolen. I guess I would need a simcard, though. Still pondering…

These are the most “reliable” if you can get the to work/mount. Shouldn’t be a problem. If this doens’t work a couple STs multis could work and you could sense the door opening based on accel. (The accel. could provide false positives though)


That’s the way to go. I might have to look into a range extender, though.

Maybe a pay per month hot-spot?

I’d mentioned this in the forums in a different context a while ago (at least I think I did), but it sounds like what’s happening to cars around your area is what’s described in this article:

The tl;dr is that there’s a cheap amp that can be placed near the vehicle so that it’s ‘reach’ when looking for the key fob transponder is greatly increased. If the key transponder is within the expanded radius, the doors may be unlocked. This doesn’t apply to push button remotes, but rather the transponders that allow the car doors to magically unlock if it’s very close by and you grab the door handle.

If you’re looking to catch someone at it… you now know a little more about the likely exploit they’re employing.

If you’re looking to prevent it from happening to you, keep your transponder fobs in cheap ‘faraday cage’ pouches.
Here is a link as an example of this type of product -
I’m not endorsing, nor have I tried this product. If you try this or another one, be sure to test it first.

The pattern you mentioned (only contents stolen, not the car itself) fits. The crime still requires the key - it doesn’t ‘copy’ the key, somehow accounting for rolling codes. If it allowed them to start the car, they wouldn’t get too far before they were out of the extended range and presumably the car would not go further… somehow… safely…

Yeah that raises another question. What would happen if one chucked the key transponder out the window at freeway speeds? Anyone want to perform this experiment and report back to me?*

*please don’t do this. I’m curious, but I’m OK being ignorant on this. Unless you already know what happens, in which case, by all means, enlighten me.

If the OP has a “throwaway car” with a remote keyless system, it’s no wonder his neighborhood is being targeted by thieves. Just sayin’ …

And, yeah, Farraday cages. Or bags. But not, apparently, the typical freezer. See the following, wherein I got schooled on door seals: :smile:


Most cars with smart fobs only require the fob to be present to start the car. Once started, the car will run even without the fob in the car (easier to attempt than throwing the fob out the window at high speed, so yes, I tried it).

This is yet another reason you don’t leave your car running while you run into the store - the thief can go a LONG way before he/she shuts off the engine.

I suspect some newer models now check for the fob when shifting into drive; I know that at least one good model remote starter does this…

It’s not very exciting, but I know of at least one person who used a baby monitor. They just set it by their bed and were awoken when someone entered their car. They were then able to scare the person off and get a good physical description to the police.

If your neighborhood is consistently being hit, I can almost guarantee that it’s either a few kids that live in your area or kids that are rolling in on a bike. It doesn’t matter how nice the area is; every place has its crooks. The reason I mention this is that you may want to be discrete when installing whatever you’re going to install - maybe your neighbor’s kid might tell someone.

Larcenies like this are crimes of opportunity. While it’s possible that someone is walking around with some gadget that opens doors, it’s most likely that someone is just tugging on door handles. Even in broad daylight, you can see people walking on the sidewalk, right by the curb, checking for unlocked cars. You’d be shocked at how many people don’t lock their car doors. Sometimes people are forgetful and sometimes the doors are accidentally unlocked with the key fob. And when asked, most will lie to the police or their friends because they’re embarrassed (or they want to make sure that their insurance will cover some loss!) That said, some people intentionally leave their cars unlocked. They figure that they’d rather wake up to a rummaged car than a broken window.

Be safe and good luck! If you get a photo, that’d be great step towards getting this person(s) caught!


Find this app as it is a good Baby Cam app and can work over Cell signal and WiFi: (Android and IOS)

You need a baby monitor app that records, though, if you want something to give the cops.

And The Answer is: (Drum Roll)

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Is that motion activated?

The Arlo we were discussing is a relatively inexpensive motion-activated battery-operated wIFi camera made for outdoor weather conditions (including night capture) that stores images and can send email alerts. Everything about it is good except battery life, which is typically 3 weeks.

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It has motion activated record capability. Works over Wifi and can record. You do not need a component app for it; as it has a URL for most browsers.

Record on the device? Or in the cloud? Because we can assume the device itself will be stolen.


@anderson110. When you decide on the final hardware/software you are going to use let me know. I will work on a smart app that will tie it all together for you.

One thing… If you want it to do video make sure to have a URL that we can get to publicly. This will allow us to snap pictures automatically through STs. So we can have it capture through STs and the software/hardware you pick. Double the chance to get a good capture :smile:


Excellent idea. Simple and cost effective. I’ve sent this out as an idea that anyone in the neighborhood can try.

As for the rest of your thought process, I agree with it entirely and had many of the same thoughts. However the sheer number of cars being successfully opened does make me wonder if someone is defeating electronic locks.

For the IP Cam app shown, cloud streaming is possible through lvideon service, $2/mo. Might work.

As for night, the interior lights can be set to come on with door open, but I imagine a thief might switch those off as their first move. An IR light source might work but again I’m back to needing a power source.

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Remember that “streaming” and “record for playback later” are two different things. For police information, it’s the second one that matters.


Agreed. It appears the lvideon service is both a streaming and storage service.



Remember this Bob,

  1. I am all for using an old toss away phone as bait (as you notice), but keep this in mind.
    a. Wipe the phone of any personal data first.
    b. For Android: Use the built in Android device Encryption utility to encrypt the device.
    c. Setup a STRONG password for the LOCK!
    d. Install the Find my Phone app as a second annoyance(Does work over WiFi too).
    e. After thought: Put the phone into a dashboard phone holder and it should get enough light from street lights and the door light for when the door is opened. (The thief will first have to turn off the physical light switch on the inside roof of the car!)
  2. Good Hunting!
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