SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Thieves are hacking key fobs to steal valuables from inside vehicles, AAA warns.

Key fobs are devices used for newer cars and trucks that no longer require a key to unlock the doors and start the engine, instead using an electronic “fob” that transmits a radio signal to gain entry.

22News spoke with Mark Schieldrop of AAA Northeast who said thieves have been targeting certain Hyundai’s and Kia’s.

“Because the vehicle doesn’t have a mobilizer, you can jumpstart the car,” Schieldrop explained. “People are finding it easy to unlock cars, and once they get into certain cars, it’s easier to start them up and drive off.”

AAA says another way thieves are stealing newer cars is by intercepting signals from key fobs used to unlock car doors. The vehicles could even be started and driven away but cannot be restarted once out of the range of the fob, so most crimes involving fob “hacking” involve property theft.

“This can even happen with a key fob in your house, so somebody outside of your building could trigger this and thieves will even go into the vehicle and steal things,” Schieldrop continued.

There are precautions to lessen the chance of this kind of theft from happening to you. AAA recommends the following:

  • Store key fobs as far away from the vehicle as possible and keep them in a metal container or a bag used to store toll transponders to interrupt the fob signal and prevent hacking.
  • Do not leave valuables such as navigation devices, purses, shopping bags or electronics in the vehicle.
  • If possible, park in a garage or well-lit area with security cameras
  • Do not place key fobs in a freezer or microwave oven which may damage the fobs and cost hundreds of dollars to replace.