ELMHURST, Ill. — Elmhurst police are investigating after armed car thieves made off with a homeowner’s SUV — despite never obtaining keys.
Authorities said the brazen theft in west suburban Elmhurst occurred when thieves stole an SUV parked in the driveway of an area home. According to police, around 5:07 Monday morning near East Church Street and South Poplar Avenue in Elmhurst, ring doorbell video captured car thieves as they staked out a black Jeep SRT parked in a driveway.
Surveillance video captured the car thieves making a U-Turn and parking at a curb near the home. Video shows one man approaching the passenger side of the vehicle, with two others following, standing near the vehicle’s rear.
Video shows one offender holding a gun, pointing it at the door of the home.
The man next to him raises and lowers a weapon as both men point their firearms towards the home, standing guard. The third offender uses an unknown object to break into the Jeep.
The ring video shows one of the other men walking up, holding what appears to be an iPad or tablet, with the screen lit up.
Although the Jeep had no keys inside, the trio was able to start it and take off, with the other offenders jumping in the other vehicle and speeding off behind.
From start to finish, they were in and out in three minutes.
News of the early morning theft alarmed some Elmhurst residents.
“It’s pretty scary,” said Julie Hendricks. “We’ve been here for 25 years. So a neighbor of ours sent us a link to the video. So we’re pretty scared. We have cars parked outside most nights. You think you’re safe and you’re obviously not.”
High tech criminals are targeting keyless vehicles in what’s known as ‘relay attacks’ using a device called an amplifier. For example, if a key fob is inside a home, the amplifier can grab the signal and send it to an iPad or tablet to start the car.
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“It makes me sick to my stomach,” Hendricks said. “Thinking you’re in bed and this is going on right outside your window. We live about a block away. It’s shocking.”
Experts say to prevent ‘relay attacks’ from happening, car owners should try not to keep their keys by the front of their home. Experts add that fobs may be kept in a metal box or even wrapped in aluminum foil to block amplifiers from accessing.