Burglars suspected of using signal jammer to fool San Jose man's Nest security camera

Michael Finney Image
Saturday, September 25, 2021
Signal jammer suspected as SJ burglars fool Nest security camera
Missing video recordings during the robbery led one San Jose man to investigate the possible causes -- including Wi-Fi jammers.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- This mystery begins like so many others, in the middle of the night.

It all began on Jim Grubb's front porch in San Jose. His dog's barking woke him up.

He says, "We woke up, went downstairs, found the front door ajar slightly, and thought, 'Wow, we must have left the door ajar last night.'"

The next morning there were new clues. Grubb found items missing, including a laptop and a drone.

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"I went to the Nest video camera that's on our front door," he says. "The burglar was in the front yard, you could see a flashlight and occasionally you could see his beanie cap."

He goes on: "...and then, as I'm looking at the video, I'm starting to see these gaps in the video, and I have many gaps."

Gaps in the video where we might have been able to make out the thief's face.

Jim contacted Nest customer support and was told the video doorbell had no interference communicating to the router until the incident happened.

"So I was like I can't believe this, and so I started doing a little research and I found out that you can buy one of these little microcontrollers," he says. "That will actually de-authorize the clients that are on your Wi-Fi network and essentially cause interference."

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They cost $7. For $50, Grubb found a wrist model that offers more exacting control. Grubb knows he doesn't have proof, but he fears thieves may be jamming Wi-Fis.

Google is not so sure, telling 7 On Your Side in part: "Google Nest is committed to protecting the privacy and security of our customers. We are aware of a single Nest Hello Doorbell issue, and our team is actively investigating... there is no evidence that the device was purposefully tampered with."

Tristan Perry is a tech blogger from Wales. He has been looking at this issue for a while and says it is not really a surprise.

"We all know Wi-Fi can have issues, whether it's your phone messing up, or Zoom stream having an issue, or Netflix stream pausing, they can have issues," he tells 7 On Your Side.

He has written about Ring video doorbells.

"I've had quite a few people email me with these problems to say there was somebody, you know, looking into the windows and looking a little bit suspect, and then they go in their Ring app and there are no recordings at all, and those results have been some investigating it, looking into a bit further," he says.

We asked Ring for comment, it declined. Until we have more information, be aware... a wired cam can't be jammed, we know that for sure. Wireless, well, that remains a mystery.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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