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Jun 21, 2013 6:15 PM by Kyung Lau

Car thieves use mystery gadget to hack in

LOS ANGELES - Police across the country are stumped by a rash of car thefts.

In surveillance video of the thefts, criminals appear to open locked cars with a mysterious handheld device.

But Kyung lah reports nobody -- not even the car manufacturers -- knows how it works.

In Long Beach, California, a man walks up to a car and using a small box, opens it.
Right next to him is another man, also using a box, opens that car.
The problem -- they're thieves. No keys. Now they've swiped all valuables from the cars.

In Chicago, the exact same scenario. A man by the sedan, unlocks it. No key.

Alarm disabled by some mystery device. You feel you've been outsmarted.
I thought I had everything on lockdown. The same thing happened to Steven Doi of Corona, California.

His car's computer system was hacked. But the crook didn't get away clean. Doi's dash-cam, pointing toward the front of his Escalade. They caught the suspect... pacing... holding some mystery box.

"I was like whoa. You see this guy walking back and forth in front of the car."

Sure enough, in the video, you can hear the door locks go plop. In just 18 seconds, the crook emptied out $3,000 worth of electronics.

Same device, different cities.

Mike Bender,an ex-cop and auto theft expert, calls it the latest high tech crime tool hitting New York to Los Angeles.

And like police across the country, he doesn't know exactly what it is.

"The ease that this is working and the frequency we're seeing it reported throughout the US, means it's only become a greater problem," Bender said.

Bender says your car is a rolling computer. What it takes to break in aren't sledgehammersnot sledgehammers but hacking devices.

If you can hack into the NSA you can hack into GM.

But federal agents may be closing on what these boxes are. Law enforcement sources tell CNN they now have one of these boxes in Texas.

They're trying to figure out if this is the same device used in other car burglaries.

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