iPod stolen by a superhero
June 27, 2013 11:51 AM   Subscribe

Since returning from a Palo Duro Canyon (Texas) trip, I’ve been torturing myself: How the heck was my iPod stolen from my car? Is there such thing as an alarm-disabling device? Is The Flash alive and well, phasing through car doors to swiftly swipe 7+-year-old iPod Nanos? I’m anal retentive about the alarm/locks. I always set the alarm. It’s ingrained in me. The storage compartment between the front seats was opened and left open, and the auxiliary cable and iPod were taken. The back armrest was pulled down and left down. Nothing else was gone from the car – not the few dollars stuffed into the ashtray, not my camping gear, not my delicious fruit and nut hiking snacks.

I’d appreciate any input! My brain needs a rest. Thanks.
posted by bakedbeets to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total)
You sure it isn't under the seats?
posted by oceanjesse at 11:54 AM on June 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Or in some other bag that you already unpacked but didn't check thoroughly?
posted by Etrigan at 11:56 AM on June 27, 2013

Were the doors locked when you got back to the car? Is there any evidence that the alarm didn't go off when you were away from the car? They generally turn themselves off after a while.
posted by brainmouse at 11:58 AM on June 27, 2013

If you have gone trough the car thoroughly and checked everywhere, and the car was, yes indeed, still locked when you got back something akin to Occam's razor would suggest you took it with you in a kind of unthinking automatic state. Did you get out of the car in a hurry or flustered or just concentrating on something else, at any point? Was there any other person in the car with you during the trip, when was the last time you specifically remember it, did you take it out of the car at some point and just assumed you brought it back, hotel room or something?

It seems pretty unlikely that someone would somehow break into a car, take one thing, leave the compartment open, not take the cash then bother to lock the doors afterwards. So my vote is for a brain fart or it being under your seats.
posted by edgeways at 12:00 PM on June 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

Was the cable plugged into the iPod? My guess is that the cable got hung on something as you were getting out of the car, fell onto the ground, but you didn't notice. Then someone came by and picked it up.
posted by kimdog at 12:15 PM on June 27, 2013

It could be that you forgot this one, solitary time.

It happens. I'm very, very good about locking my car when walking away. It just strikes me as psychically "wrong" not to. To my recollection, I have never left my car unlocked unintentionally and walked away. The times that I am just running back inside the house and don't do it, I honestly feel some mental discord when doing so, and it's something I definitely "notice" I'm not doing.

With that said, however, I can't help but think of the time I left my car door wide open. Not just unlocked, but fully swung open. I think "Close the car door" is something that I'm pretty sure is more ingrained in me than to hit the remote, and doing something that silly is just not something that's in character with me, nor is it something that I ever did before that time, and it hasn't repeated itself. My mom asked me to put her purse in the trunk when we were getting out, and I did so and apparently just kept going after closing the trunk. In my case, nothing was taken, even though it was a muni parking lot, I had my smartphone in the dash holster in full view, and my mother's luggage was in the backseat (I had just picked her up from the airport). not to mention her purse in the trunk. And this wasn't the best of neighborhoods. Not awful, but this area is one frequented by unsavory, hooligan types. I think the thing that saved our stuff was the "this is just too good to be true / bait car" assumption by passersby.

As far as the iPod being under the seat, as you mentioned the center console was left open, and you had left the iPod in there, it does seem that that is evidence of someone rifling very briefly through your car.

Center consoles are prime targets (moreso than glove compartments). It's commonly known that's where the vast majority of people keep phones, wallets, GPS units, etc. to keep them out of sight when parked, but have easy access to them when resuming driving.

I'd bet that it's more than likely that someone ducked in from the back seat, went straight for the console, probably didn't even have time to recognize the item as an older Nano or see the money, and was gone in less than 5 seconds.

There is one other option however, if you are somehow absolutely certain you used the remote lock.The linked article states how some thieves have divined a way to circumvent remote alarm/locking systems, though law enforcement doesn't know how it's done.
posted by Debaser626 at 12:19 PM on June 27, 2013

> Is there such thing as an alarm-disabling device?

It's not out of the realm of possibility that someone grabbed your remote code while you operated it.
posted by planetesimal at 12:24 PM on June 27, 2013

Where are you guys getting the idea that the car was still locked when bakedbeats came back?

Obviously Debaser626 could be right; you might have spaced this one time and forgot. Or, the thief could've used a slim jim and either 1) the alarm didn't go off because it sucks, 2) the alarm went off but no one else was around, or 3) the alarm went off, people looked over curiously, and the thief rolled his eyes, said "sorry," and pretended to try and shut it off for 30 seconds until it shut itself off.

In my anecdotal experience, car alarms go off about infinity percent more often than people in the area actually take note of or exhibit any concern about said car alarms.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 12:25 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's not out of the realm of possibility that someone grabbed your remote code while you operated it.

FYI: I don't think code cloning works on modern cars. They use a rolling code, meaning the code changes every time the button is pressed based on set formula to "advance" the code that both the fob and receiver have, which is randomly set itself. A clone of the code you used to lock your door, would be useless.

This is why I think the cops are so confused in the article I linked to.
posted by Debaser626 at 12:30 PM on June 27, 2013

planetesimal: It appears I also didn't read the full text of the article you linked. It has very poor formatting, as it's actually debunking the code cloning myth. The opening paragraphs are actually the "chain letter" myth. Bad Oregon Herald!
posted by Debaser626 at 12:34 PM on June 27, 2013

On the suspected day/night of iPod thievery, my car was parked 6 feet from my tent. When it wasn't, it was parked at a trailhead for 2 hours. You can hear a pin drop 10 miles away in that peaceful canyon so I "should" have been able to hear that alarm, even on a hiking trail.

I checked every crack and crevice in the car and everything from the trip has been unpacked completely (I got home one week ago). The missing cable was a massive red flag for me. There wasn't any reason for me to remove the iPod from the car on this particular trip. But if I had, I would not have also pulled the cable from the input jack. The cable has stayed in that console for the past 3 years.

The Flash, an alarm bypass trick, or brain fart. Yes, there is the possibility I was a dolt.
posted by bakedbeets at 1:02 PM on June 27, 2013

Is there any evidence that the alarm didn't go off when you were away from the car? They generally turn themselves off after a while.

On most modern cars, if the alarm has gone off some kind of "HEY STUFF HAPPENED!" light will be blinking somewhere on the dashboard or in the gauge cluster even long after it's stopped honking/sirening/etc. I've noticed this on at least 3 models of newer cars my family/friends/acquaintances own.

For what it's worth though, my partner has a newer car with an alarm+immobilizer setup from the factory. The alarm was definitely on(like i specifically remember hearing the beep noise and going "oh, she's home"), and the car was parked basically right outside our bedroom window and directly facing our roommate at the times window as well. No one heard anything.

Someone somehow disabled the alarm, opened two of the doors, and tossed everything in the car and made a big mess. Nothing seemed to be gone, but in the morning the car was just sitting there in the rain with the doors open and the dome light on. Nothing was damaged internally or externally, and there were no signs of them using any kind of forced entry.

If they had closed the doors afterwards, we'd be talking about the exact situation you encountered.

So it's absolutely plausible to me that they somehow just disabled the alarm and unlocked the door on your car. I have no idea how they would have, but that shit does happen.
posted by emptythought at 3:12 PM on June 27, 2013

It could be that you forgot this one, solitary time.

People leave their children in cars to die, thinking they've dropped them off at daycare because they always drop them off at daycare. People do forget things in their routine.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:49 PM on June 27, 2013

on new cars with rfid tag keys there is a device that can mimic the key and open the car. it will look just like the key and you will never know they unlocked the car.

Its been shown on a ton of news programs. Maybe that was used on your car.

Also if you have autolock on your car it usually takes 15 - 30 seconds for the car to lock. so if you did not lock the car yourself they could have opened the door befor the car locked itself.
posted by majortom1981 at 4:32 PM on June 27, 2013

Oh and to clone the key with this device they only have to walk by you. they dont even need you to use your key.
posted by majortom1981 at 4:33 PM on June 27, 2013

A few months ago, my car and 3 other neighbor's cars were all looted one night. (The thief nabbed an ipod from my console.)

No obvious signs of forced entry, and there's no way all of us forgot to lock our car doors on the exact same night. Someone must have had some device that spoofed our remotes and unlocked the doors.
posted by gnutron at 10:00 PM on June 27, 2013

Was the cable plugged into the iPod? My guess is that the cable got hung on something as you were getting out of the car, fell onto the ground, but you didn't notice. Then someone came by and picked it up.

If we were making bets, this is where my money would go. You were hiking? So maybe pulling things like packs in and out of your car?
posted by bongo_x at 10:14 AM on June 28, 2013

I've heard that sneaky criminals may have some new unknown gadget (bonus: Dan Kaminsky) that opens the FOBs. Maybe it's based on this research, which might explain why two devices are seen in the surveillance video.

Hey, at least you didn't get a broken window.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:51 PM on June 28, 2013

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