Vallejo police bust auto burglar with high-tech tool

VALLEJO, Calif. (KGO) -- Your safety is an important part of our effort to tell stories that build a Better Area. Car break-ins and theft are one of the most common crimes in the Bay Area.

One local police department caught an auto burglar, who has a stealthy way of breaking in, without breaking windows.

On Tuesday, a Vallejo Police detective interrupted a suspected auto burglar who had a signal jammer, a small black box about the size of a cell phone with antennas.

The signal jammer is now a piece of evidence, the likes of which, the department has never recovered before.

"It's a portable device that actually you can keep in your car, in your pocket, on your person and it will block the electrical signal from your key fob to your vehicle," said an undercover Vallejo Police investigator, who did not want to be identified. "It will prevent your vehicle from locking."

So forget broken windows-- you could show up to your car, there's no damage, but your valuables are mysteriously missing. The police investigator explained how that might affect a victim and the police response.

"They're second guessing whether they even locked their vehicle or if they may have left those items that were stolen at home. So, it instantly causes a delay in the reporting."

"So I just shut the door normally and walk away," said Jeff Marth-- demonstrating what lots of people do, while exiting and locking their car. Despite the fact that Marth says there are frequent car break-ins where he works at the Corte Madera Town Center-- he had no idea signal jammers were a tool available to thieves. "It's scary to think that your car is safe and your stuff gets broken into."

An auto theft expert says the signal jammers will block any noise generated from a key fob. So, when you lock your car, double check it's locked with the door handle.

And if you have an automated key fob, listen for the beep or for the actual locking mechanism.

And if you hear nothing, you need to lock your car again.

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