Brainstorm with me: DIY bait car

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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Oh, I’ve taken the key fob out of the car while running. It complains. But I’ve never tried it whilst moving. At any speed.

For my car, and I’m sure others, remote start is a different and special scenario than starting the car with fob inside, then removing it. First, the button sequence requires pressing lock first (it sorta helps). Second, you have to press the ignition button with the key in the car before you can drive, even if it’s been remote started.

As far as dismissing this as just a crime of opportunity, in this case, especially given the number of times its popped up in the media, first as a mysterious increase in “break-ins” with no evidence of breaking in to these types of cars, and now with an explanation. Remember the device is $100. On Amazon. Some variants as cheap as $17. If someone who goes around tugging on door handles packs one of these cheap devices, his odds of a ‘jackpot’ when tugging door handles increases with negligible additional effort. Still a crime of opportunity, but with a boost in opportunities.

And I find it a little offensive that at $17, these amps are cheaper than what some sellers are selling the blocking pouches for. Ouch!

I wish the OP (genuine, non-snarky) luck in getting evidence that can be used in prosecuting a perpetrator of this type of larceny. It’d be great to get the word out that folks are aware, and that they can’t be sure if a target of opportunity is really a honeypot!


“A little black device available for $100 can give easy access to certain locked cars”… might be what they are using, however the low tech method of using a blood pressure cuff and a coat hanger will get you into most any vehicle, available at any Walmart for $10.00

This would set off the alarm. These guys get in and out without as much as a whisper.

Any links to articles about this device? What are they called?

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Ok, so my door open sensors arrive today. First order of business will be to see if they can be installed properly on the car doors, and second, if they are within range to work reliably.

What I’m wondering, though, is (setting aside video for the time being) how to make a door open signal trigger a loud alarm on my phone. Ideas?

Ok, door sensors are in and work great. Pushing SMS messages to an android app that responds with an alarm to specific SMS text.

Now, onto pictures/video…

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