It all seemed so simple: Get out of the car at the grocery store, lock and arm your vehicle with a factory keyless entry alarm, do your shopping and go home.
Until you find out that your car isn’t in the parking lot when you get back. You got straight up car jacked! How did that happen?
Car manufacturers and alarm manufacturers have added more sophisticated technology so thieves have become more and more clever. Thieves now use handheld devices called Code Grabbers that capture the code sent out from your transmitter so they can use it on your car. Some thieves even have other devices called Code Blockers that simply prevent your signal from reaching the car in the first place, leaving your car unlocked so thieves can do with your vehicle as they please.
And it’s not just fancy new cars that are targeted anymore – Thieves have wisened up and now avoid high end cars because they know there will be extensive security to get past. Instead, the latest reports show that Ford pickup trucks are targeted most frequently.
So what’s the point of all this frightening info?
Aftermarket alarms have managed to stay a step ahead of thieves by using various technology that is far more effective than factory car alarms.
First off, is Code Hopping.
Just about all of the big names in car alarms—Viper, Python, Autopage, Clifford, Omega etc.—use Code Hopping technology to prevent Code Grabbers from intercepting and retransmitting a code. It works by changing the encryption code that is transmitted from your key fob every time you press a button. The receiver, or “brain,” of your alarm will reject and ignore any code that was previously received. So if a Code Grabber intercepts your signal and that signal is transmitted to your vehicle, your alarm will reject that code since you already used it and it will not unlock your vehicle.
And with 18 QUINTILLION different code combinations, you can pretty much press the buttons on your remote nonstop for the rest of your life and you’ll still have plenty of codes left to go through.
The more difficult device to deal with is the Code Blocker which prevents the code from even reaching your vehicle in the first place and makes Code Hopping ineffective.
Police still don’t know too much about this new device but it’s safe to assume that it somehow blocks the certain radio band frequencies that car alarm transmitters use. Until car alarm manufacturers develop transmitters that operate on a frequency that Code Blockers cannot intercept, there are still some technologies that aftermarket car alarms use to prevent thieves from stealing your vehicle.
Starter Kill is a simple switch that comes with most alarms that gets connected between the battery and starter. When arming your car this switch is activated, so if a thief gets into your vehicle they will still be unable to start it.
A Failsafe Starter Kill is a digital keypad that completely prevents the starter from cranking when the system is armed. This way, even if a thief has your own key they will be unable to start the car if the alarm is armed.
Piezo Sirens can be added to just about aftermarket car alarm system and, boy does it pack a wallop. Your normal siren is mounted under the hood so that can heard from the outside. A piezo siren, on the other hand, is mounted inside the vehicle. A fun place to install them is right behind the stereo so when the thief gets into your car, they’ll be blasted with an ear-shattering 118dB high pitched tone straight to the dome. I have one in my own car and trust me, it’s truly painful to sit in the car for more than a second with that thing going (and this is coming from someone who blasts heavy metal through his headphones everyday).
Now for the icing on the cake…
One of the most simple things listed here, the backup battery. An entire alarm system can be rendered useless if the thief cuts the power to the vehicle. A backup battery is usually installed inside the vehicle behind the stereo like the piezo siren and will keep your alarm system juiced even if your power is cut.
If you still think your factory alarm will cut it, don’t just take our word for it, check out the report from ABC news on this growing issue.