Although opportunistic thieves now have a new way of getting into cars — taking advantage of new technology to easily unlock doors — Bayou St. John residents learned a possible way to prevent it on Tuesday evening, while also discussing loud parties along the bayou that disturb some residents.
Quality of Life Officer Kristie Lavigne warned residents at the Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association meeting Tuesday that many newer models of cars use a remote key fob — not an actual key — to unlock their doors. When the key fob gets close enough to the vehicle, the doors unlock automatically.
But when the car is parked at a house with the owner and his or her key fob inside, auto burglars can use the technology against them, Lavigne explained.
“Criminals now are using amplifiers to get the signals from your keys inside to unlock your cars outside,” Lavigne said.
“They go in your car, they take your stuff, and lock your car back,” Lavigne said.
According to Lavigne, a simple fix using aluminum foil may help thwart the thieves.
“You can take your actually key fob and wrap it in aluminum foil and foil blocks the signal. Me, myself, I have a plastic container wrapped in foil and I put my key in it every night,” Lavigne said.
Lavigne said she could not vouch for the absolute reliability of the method, but it is a common recommendation for owners of vehicles with keyless entry.
A neighbor at the meeting mentioned she heard about the issue and said that amplifiers are sold online for as cheap as $8. A neighbor also mentioned that sticking a key fob in the freezer could help preventing the amplifier from retrieving the signal, but Lavinge also mentioned that it could possibly damage the fob as well.
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Also at the meeting, neighbors also complained about people having outdoor parties along Bayou St. John with as many as 60 to 90 people partying until early morning hours.
“It’s like a live concert,” one neighbor said. “It’s not a neighborhood anymore; it’s a venue for partying.”
Neighbors mentioned that the vast majority of the gatherings happen near or on the Bayou St. John bridge. One woman mentioned that she has called 911 and no one responded to her complaint.
“The festivals don’t concern me. It’s the constant 365 days of the year that people do whatever they want there and there’s no response,” she said.
Lavigne said that she was unaware of the problem, but will help with addressing it.
“I’ll get with Sgt. Palumbo, who is over Mid-City, because Mid-City officers can respond much faster than a platoon officer,” Lavigne said.