Here’s another reason not to leave your electronics in your car: Thieves may target your vehicle if they detect your devices’ Bluetooth signals.

Anyone can use free apps to scan for Bluetooth in their vicinity. And this kind of app has a very legitimate use: Finding your lost Bluetooth device! If you misplace your Fitbit or drop a wireless earbud, a Bluetooth scanning app will detect all active Bluetooth signals near you, as well as report how close you are to them.

Unfortunately, thieves have repurposed this sort of tool. They can walk around parking garages and other areas dense with vehicles, and determine which cars have active electronics inside them. I can’t tell how widespread this tactic is, but when I see multiple police departments warn about it, it looks credible enough to pass on.

So many of your tech devices give off Bluetooth signals:

  • Laptops
  • Smartphones
  • Tablets
  • Wireless headphones and earbuds
  • Fitness trackers and smartwatches

Sure, you could go to the effort of disabling Bluetooth on your electronics or turning your devices completely off, before locking them in your car. But that’s a hassle, and something we all might forget to do. It’s probably easier just to take your electronics with you.