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Thieves use this trick to look inside your car, police warns

Thieves use this trick to look inside your car, police warns

Most of us don’t give a damn about the things we leave in our cars: old receipts, water bottles, sometimes even fast food containers. But occasionally we keep more valuable belongings in our vehicles, and protecting your car from thieves also means protecting what’s inside. You probably know that leaving your doors unlocked could be the welcome mat for criminals, but even if your car is safely secured, criminals now have a cunning new trick to peek inside your vehicle. Read on to find out how thieves choose their targets and what the police say you can do to avoid becoming a victim.

READ THIS NEXT: Never leave your car without doing so first, police say in a new warning.

car airbag activated
gokhanilgaz / iStock

Criminals are often looking for valuables in your vehicle, but that treasure may not always be what you expect. Police in Phillipsburg, New Jersey recently warned drivers about an increase in airbag theft. According to a police Facebook post, thieves break into the vehicles, cut open the steering wheels and… remove airbags. The security features are easy to steal and hide, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), and have become a hot item on the black market, thanks in large part to shortages related to the pandemic.

Federal law requires airbags in “all cars and light trucks” on both sides of the front seats, making them a fairly reliable target — thieves don’t have to double check to see if you have an airbag installed, especially if your car is a newer model. But if you are in the habit of leaving other belongings in your car, the police are asking you to think twice, as criminals now have a way of choosing the most profitable victims.

iphone cell phone cameraiphone cell phone camera
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Forget X-rays – Police in Memphis, Tennessee have issued a new warning that thieves are now using mobile cameras to look in your carreports CBS affiliate WREG.

Criminals can now save themselves the hassle of smashing windows by looking directly into your car with their phones, which WREG described as a “new tool” by officers at the Crump District Police Department in Memphis. The ability to see through car windows depends on the make and model of the phone, but when testing the trick with an iPhone camera, WREG reporters were able to see directly into the back seat of a vehicle. As can be seen from photos posted by the WREG, the interior view on the iPhone’s screen was clear as day, without even having to take a picture.

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tinted car windowtinted car window
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You’d think you’d be protected if your windows are tinted, but this new “hack” has found a way around dark windows, which are often installed to keep car interiors safe and private. It turns out that this cell phone method is effective no matter how dark the hue, Crump police officers claimed at a crime forum in the Cooper-Young neighborhood of Memphis, per WREG.

wallet in car theft riskwallet in car theft risk
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The Memphis Police Department (MPD) has an ongoing initiative called “Put it away, don’t show it Memphisencouraging residents to keep their valuables hidden. According to a public service announcement (PSA) from the department, “motor vehicle theft is the top non-violent crime that occurs daily in Memphis,” and police have already responded to 3,000 thefts. from motor vehicles so far this year.

As the PSA explains, thieves look for valuables, mainly firearms, purses or other items that can be sold on the street to make a quick buck. The MPD suggests a few strategies for protecting yourself, which may feel like common sense. But we’re all guilty of leaving a phone or wallet in our car while running a quick errand or making a pit stop.

It goes without saying, but do not leave valuables in your car, always keep your doors locked and park in well-lit areas. You should also make sure your car alarm works or “invest in in-car cameras that record on motion detection”. If for some reason you have to leave valuables in your car, the MPD repeats the slogan “Stow It, Don’t Show It,” meaning your belongings should be tucked away and kept out of sight.