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New high-tech device helping car thieves

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

It's a crime alert all car owners need to know about.

Some car thieves have found a new way to break into vehicles.

The crooks are doing it without smashing any windows or setting off any alarms.

J.D. Hough with the Arizona Auto Theft Authority showed CBS 5 News surveillance video from Long Beach, CA.

It shows a trio of car burglars using a mysterious handheld electronic device to gain easy access to a number of vehicles, steal everything inside, then leave without a trace.

"It seems like every time we invent something better to prevent criminal activity, the criminals are out there doing the same thing on how to defeat it," said Hough.

Hough said that these car thieves appear to have some type of key fob, like the ones motorists use to open and lock their cars.

The crooks will walk up to a vehicle, push a button, and the doors will magically unlock.

"It's frightening," said Valley driver Dixie Hill. "Everybody has key fobs, but if they can use them now to steal your car, how do you protect yourself?"

One of the big questions motorists are asking is whether these thieves are actually intercepting someone's frequency when they stop and lock their doors.

Authorities don't think so, telling CBS 5 News that it looks more like these crooks are randomly targeting different vehicles until one of them opens up.

The ring of car burglars has hit close to a dozen vehicles in the Los Angeles area, leaving authorities scrambling to figure out how they're doing it.

A nationwide alert has been issued and vehicle manufacturers contacted in an attempt to identify the type of technology being used.

Hough said these high-tech thieves haven't hit Arizona yet, but it's just a matter of time.

"I expect it to be here in the very near future," said Hough. "If it's going on in California, we're going to be having it here also."

The best way drivers can protect themselves is to keep an eye out for anyone suspicious  around your vehicle, or anyone else's, and call police.

Hough also said not to leave any valuables in your car, especially where thieves can easily find them.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
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