Photo: A BMW with a power folding side mirror (BMW)
In poker, a “tell” is when a player makes a subtle physical gesture – repeatedly glancing at their cards – that betrays the strength of their hand. A good opponent will quickly jump on what they see and act accordingly to either win the pot or cut their losses.
And it turns out that vehicles – especially the expensive late model kind – have a “tell” of their own, one of which certain unsavory types took the ultimate advantage at the expense of four Belmont households.
According to a media release from the Belmont Police Department released on Aug. 29, unknown perps stole four vehicles from their owner’s property in the final weeks of August. Besides being high end recently built autos, they had one other thing in common: a conveyance that turned out to give a vital detail away to the thieves – that they were unlocked and ready to be stolen.
The tell? The side-view mirrors were in their normal outward position.
“Certain model vehicles that are equipped with side-view mirrors that automatically fold in when the vehicle is locked are being targeted by thieves,” read the report. “The perpetrators drive late at night, scanning the streets for open side-view mirrors. The open mirrors on certain makes and models is a telltale sign that the vehicle is unlocked.”
A popular feature in many models of vehicles – including from Tesla, BMW, Lexus, Cadillac, Ford and Hyundai – power folding side view mirrors can be folded inward to decrease the size of a car, helping to fit a car into tight spaces such as in parking lots, or as a safety feature when driving through an automatic car wash, or parking on a busy street.
But a number of auto owners either are inattentive or careless when parking their vehicles especially at their homes.
Last year, the Fairfield Police, CT twitted that “[i]n certain luxury vehicles side mirrors fold in when the key fob is not in the vehicle. Suppose side mirrors are still open on a parked car. In that case, thieves know the key is in the vehicle, making it an easy theft target, said the Fairfield Police using information from the North Miami, Florida Police Department and the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators.
According to the website locksmithspro, “thieves will either take advantage of this vulnerability and try to steal the car using various engine start tricks or even the key that has also been left behind in the ignition.”
While these incidents are likely the first ones in which vehicles were stolen in Belmont under these circumstances, this theft is becoming better known over the past few years. First seen in Staten Island around 2017, it’s becoming more prevalent along the Jersey shore.
In Avalon, New Jersey, police urged people to lock their vehicles and homes after four luxury cars were stolen a week after the July 4th holiday. Avalon police say a group of suspects wearing masks and gloves stole the vehicles – a Bentley, a Mercedes, a BMW, and a Porsche – between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. Three high-end cars were also stolen over the Memorial Day weekend.
Avalon detectives believe the suspects are from the Newark area and drove around before the thefts to scout their targets.
Nor is this just an east coast problem: England is suffering from this US import.
In a recent story in The Telegraph, Dr. Keith Floyd, a former police chief inspector and a criminologist at Huddersfield University, who interviewed convicted car thieves in prison, said most of their thefts stemmed from what participants described as “lazy” motorists failing to lock their cars even when they had valuables inside.
Floyd said opportunistic thieves could easily bypass all the alarms, keyless defenses, and other hi-tech security that car giants have spent millions of pounds developing.
“With many modern cars nowadays, open door mirrors equate in the thief’s mind with an open door because by default, many are set or can be modified by software to close when the car is locked as a lock confirmation. It’s as simple as that. Open door mirrors can be a green light to theft,” said Floyd.