ANTIOCH, Tenn. (WKRN) — Some car burglars use rocks to bust out windows. Other thieves are more sophisticated, using technology to defeat a car’s own security systems.

Metro auto theft detectives are looking into one possible case that happened Tuesday, July 12th in Antioch around 4:40 am. That’s when Linda McMutery’s security system showed a hoodie-wearing man walking up to her 2022 Chevy Equinox.

McMutery told News 2 she is certain her car was locked and the key fob stored securely inside her home.

The video is short, but it clearly shows the man holding a device that is blinking.

(Courtesy: Linda McMutery)

After a few seconds, he pulled the car open, reached into her car, and according to Linda, stole her purse.

McMutery said she stopped her credit cards and only lost a little cash. But she lost her identification and even her daughter’s birth certificate.

“It’s a really hard situation, if you cannot protect your car in your home, what else can you do?”

Metro Police recently began working McMutery’s case.

Lt. Michael Warren is over the fraud, pawn, and auto theft unit. He told News 2 it’s not surprising that thieves would learn to utilize technology for criminal exploits considering how technology connects so many parts of everyday life.

“This is new to me,” Warren said. “The fact, there could potentially be an app to open a car, that is alarming to me, it’s alarming to all investigators because it is not something we have dealt with, it’s not a trend we’ve seen yet.”

Warren says he has instructed his detectives to look into McMutery’s case, to be proactive in case more incidents show up.

Nathan Dunn, a security expert at Cartronics, said he’s not surprised to see an incident like this. “Oh yeah, been happening for years. Since vehicles have been coming with smart ignition systems, push button start, it’s been making it easier, cause people can copy the signal of the key, not only to get into your car, but steal your car and drive away with it.”

Dunn called the incident in McMutery’s video a “relay attack.”

“They can copy the signal from and amplify the radio signal the key emits from the house so the car thinks the key is present to allow them to gain entry and start the vehicle,” said Dunn.

According to both Dunn and MNPD, the suspect in the video is probably working with another thief we don’t see on camera. Dunn said he is standing near McMutery’s home with another device, stealing the signal from her key fob in the house and sending it to the guy near the car, whose device tricks the car into thinking he has the key fob.

Even more frightening, Dunn said it is possible that the thieves might have copied it elsewhere, waiting for McMutery to lock her car. And they could have followed her home or used an AirTag to track her, then pop her locks electronically.

Thankfully, the CarTronics GM said his company is paid to stay a step ahead of thieves and his company has a variety of options to defend against the relay attacks. Those products can prevent the key from being copied, the car from being driven, and it can even be operated from your cell phone.

Dunn said some people choose a simple box known as a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) blocking box. Once the key fob is placed inside the box, all radio frequency signals are blocked.

“So you can store your key in the vehicle in the box, and when you lock it up, it closes up so the car doesn’t see the key and nobody would have access to it,” Dunn said.

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McMurtrey said she ordered a box to protect her moving forward. “I did order one of those RFID boxes to put them in, to see if it works, but who is to say they can’t figure out a way past that either?”