The Gardaí have issued a warning to motorists after car thieves used signal blockers to steal from cars in Westmeath recently.
The transmitters, which are easy to buy online, can be used to disrupt signals from your car keys fobs, meaning unsuspecting motorists believe their cars to be locked when in fact they are wide open.
This means the way is clear for thieves to help themselves to any valuables in your car, and even take the car itself.
These low-powered jammers can have a range of about 70m, meaning that a whole car park level could be targeted.
These thieves though can target cars anywhere, not just public car parks.
The Gardai currently believes the problem is small, but will probably be a more prevalent feature of car theft in the future.
How can you make sure your car is safe?
The only sure way to know your car is locked is to check manually . Most cars will also have another sign that the doors have been locked including indicator lights flashing, wing mirrors pulling in, or the horn giving a short blast.
If you're close enough to the car you can also hear the central locking mechanism clunk in to position.
It is important to keep a close watch on your car and valuables so as not to offer any encouragement to car thieves including manually checking that the vehicle is locked and taking any valuable items with you when parking the vehicle.
A more hi-tech approach to securing your vehicle might be to invest in a car jamming detector, a device that sets off an alarm when a blocking signal is detected.
Will insurance companies compensate people for this type of crime?
There is a problem faced by victims - not only have their valuables being stolen, but there is no proof they've not simply forgotten to lock their cars. Most insurance companies will not pay out if the car has been left unattended and unlocked.
The only way to prove a car lock was jammed is if a thief is caught in the act or there has been a spate of thefts from the same location such as in Westmeath recently.
Is my car itself safe in the event of being a victim of jamming?
The Gardai warns that an increasing number of newer vehicles are being taken by criminals exploiting the electronic components.
The car thieves plug a device into the on-board diagnostic port (OBD) which allows them to download the vehicle's electronic information on to a blank key. This key is then useable with the car, allowing them to drive the car away in seconds.
To prevent this type of theft it is recommended to use a steering wheel lock or gearstick lock and to consider having an OBD lock and a GPS tracker fitted. Currently Boomerangs GPS car trackers warn of this type of event happening by triggering a light and siren to notify the owner of the vehicle.