TRINITY, Fla. — For Jeep owners like Frank Mirabile, it’s about much more than something to drive.
“It’s the life. Going off-road. Meeting the groups up. Going out on weekends and going camping and stuff like that," said Mirabile.
Frank’s family had three Jeeps until last week when someone stole a blue customized Rubicon model belonging to his son.
It happened between 3-4 a.m. Thursday morning. The Jeep was parked in the driveway of their Trinity home.
“It was after a weekend being in the driveway building it. Putting his thought into it. What he liked. Not what I liked. So it hurt," said Mirabile.
But the Mirabiles aren’t the only ones who lost a Jeep that night.
Investigators say thieves stole three Jeeps from two different Trinity sub-divisions. Surveillance video shows one of them following another car out of the neighborhood.
The victims were told dozens more may have been stolen around the state.
“I have so many emotions running through me. I really didn’t know what to think or say," said Jorge Alves.
The Pasco Sheriff’s Office says they are looking into whether thieves used electronic devices to hack into the Jeeps. The use of high-tech gadgets is nothing new.
There are many cases around the world of thieves using receivers to steal key fob signals from inside homes. Then, they relay that signal to open and start cars that have push starters.
It all happened in less than a minute.
No one seems quite sure why Jeeps were targeted this time, but in less than four hours, they were tracked headed toward Miami.
“I want another Jeep because I love them. But now I have this fear that it could be stolen again. And I put a lot of time of money into that Jeep," said Alves.
“I truly don’t think they are going to find it. But then the question is do I want to buy another Jeep knowing that they are that easy to hack," said Mirabile.
To protect yourself, experts say to keep the key fob as far away from the vehicle as possible when you are home.
There are also protective pouches and boxes available that block the signal.