Thieves Are Using Bluetooth to Target Vehicle Break-Ins

Wes Siler, writing for Outside:

Bluetooth is a wireless transmission standard that a whole host of devices use to transmit data over short distances. It’s what your phone uses to pair with your car stereo and what your AirPods use to connect with your phone. These days all manner of devices use it, including tablets, laptops, cameras, speakers, and phones—basically, most things a thief may want to steal, except for your keys and cold hard cash. (Although if you use a Tile or similar locater dongle on your key chain or in your wallet, then those are discoverable using a Bluetooth scanner, too.) No pairing or security protocols are necessary; the scanners simply locate the signal a device emits and then evaluate its strength and frequency. Comparing that data against a database, they’re able to identify exact devices using a digital fingerprint.

Car break-ins are a common occurrence at one of the trails I frequently run at. I would guess the vast majority of these are smash-and-grabs where someone has simply left their backpack or purse visible and my avoidance of doing such has coincided with my car never being broken into, but it wouldn’t surprise me if I see police reports suggesting thieves using such apps in the future.

I’m sure it’s something Apple and other major smartphone manufacturers can address with software updates that stop their devices from emitting signals publicly like this, but it seems unlikely that many manufacturers would bother with older phones, notebooks, or anything like headphones or portable speakers nor are Apple and Google very likely to remove such apps from their respective stores given the many valid legal uses for them.

Book review: Rule and Ruin

★★★☆☆

The full title of this book is Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, From Eisenhower to the Tea Party, but it really covers very little past the 1960s and the Nixon administration. Reagan, the Bushes and the Tea Party movement are only given a few short chapters towards the end.

The Republican party underwent a lot of changes during the 1960s, of course, and Geoffrey Kabaservice does a great job detailing many of them from the contentious 1964 presidential primary, the embrace of the Southern Strategy and white resentment of a changing country, and the pushing out of moderates that conservatives considered no longer Republican enough. This holds up just as well when I first read the book when it was new in 2012. I just feel that there wasn’t much attention given afterwards, almost as if the author realized he was supposed to be covering the party’s history through to the end but spent so much time in the 1960s that he had to rush through the rest. And, of course, the Republican party has become even more unrecognizable between 2012 and 2019.