California surfers say they're "under attack" by car thieves—and warn that anyone else using a lock box is vulnerable. Surfers often use lock boxes to hide their car keys while surfing at beaches in San Francisco. The problem, as the San Francisco Chronicle reports, is that lock boxes can be broken into in about 10 seconds using a simple tool, as demonstrated in numerous YouTube videos. "I wish I'd known before how insecure these things are," a surfer whose car was stolen from China Beach tells the Chronicle. "You're basically advertising to thieves, 'Here's my key; go ahead take it.'" Motor vehicle thefts were up 49.5% from April 1 to Nov. 15 in the city's Taraval and Richmond police districts—which include Ocean Beach and China Beach, respectively—compared to the same period in 2019, per the Chronicle.
One surfer whose car was stolen from Ocean Beach in October later learned it had been involved in a police chase. The armed suspects were apprehended. But Will Sileo, a surfer and writer who first detailed the thefts at the Inertia, says plenty of surfers aren't reporting thefts to police due to "a lack of trust." "The police are kind of criticizing [victims]," says Sileo. "From the cops' perspective, we’re doing a stupid thing, which is leaving our cars with stuff inside them." Elsewhere, experts warn thieves are stealing vehicles by cloning electronic key fobs. "It's as simple as walking to your front door, seeing if they're able to capture a signal of a key fob that might be inside," Bryan Gast of the Insurance Bureau of Canada tells the CBC. He suggests keeping key fobs far from the front door or in a metallic box that blocks radio frequencies. (Read more car theft stories.)