A national watchdog group identified a device that lets thieves steal cars that use key fobs.
The device, which allows a person to open car doors, start vehicles and drive them away, suggests the auto industry is entering a perilous frontier in which tech-savvy criminals can bypass the keyless theft-prevention countermeasures installed on certain recent models.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) said it purchased the device "via a third-party security expert from an overseas company" that developed it "to provide manufacturers and other anti-theft organizations the ability to test the vulnerability of various vehicles' systems."
The so-called Relay Attack device demonstrates how thieves recently stole vehicles that were supposed to be extremely difficult to swipe.
The boxy device, about the size of a smartphone, is used to capture a signal from a nearby key fob before using the signal to gain entry illegally.