Taming the Bermuda Triangle of parking lots

It was just like the Bermuda Triangle only instead of ships and planes lost at sea we're talking about cars and trucks unable to start in a department store parking lot. And, unlike the tall tales associated with the waters off Florida, this Sunshine State mystery has apparently been solved by ... of all would-be sleuths, a television news team.

Driver after driver would report being unable to open their keyless locks or start their cars once entering a parking lot in Clearwater. Tow truck operators were having a field day.

From the report on FOX 13 in Tampa Bay:

"We get at least two to three calls a week there," said Grant Grein, who works as a locksmith.

He says what ever is jamming the car remote signals is confined to the parking lot.

"If we have a dead car and we push it out into the middle of 580, it starts right up," he continued.

Store managers say they've received hundreds of complaints, but they don't know what to tell their customers. Theories about what's blocking the signal range from overhead powers to a nearby cell phone tower to a rouge WiFi system.

It's not like this kind of thing doesn't happen. There was last December's story here in Network World of a mysterious signal disruption on the wireless LAN at Morrisville State College. The suspect there was Microsoft's ubiquitous Xbox 360 game console, but Microsoft shrugged and that connection has yet to be verified, I am told.

There's even ongoing research aimed at turning radio interference into a virtue.

But the Floridians getting stuck in that parking lot didn't care much about the whys and wherefores; they just wanted to get inside their cars.

To the rescue comes Frank Berry, an engineer at FOX 13, who after some snooping around came to suspect Kohl's: "I believe it's coming from their security system," said Berry. "They're blocking the car remote signal for up to 500 feet, which would indicate to me that they're putting out too much power. That's what I believe because it's exactly the same frequency and it's much stronger than the car remote."

The TV station asked Kohl's for comment.

Next day, problem gone.

Welcome regulars and passersby. Here are a few more recent Buzzblog items. And, if you'd like to receive Buzzblog via e-mail newsletter, here's where to sign up.

This Year's 25 Geekiest 25th Anniversaries.

Women 4 times more likely than men to cough up personal info to a stranger.

Adults are too quick to dismiss educational video games.

He called my teen-age daughters slutty. ... Should I hit him?

Talking tech with Cleveland's famous ballpark drummer.

In defense of Caller-ID spoofing.

Google renames the Persian Gulf.

Top 10 Buzzblog posts for '07: Verizon's there, of course, along with Gates, Wikipedia and the guy who lost a girlfriend to Blackberry's blackout.

8 can't-miss tech predictions ... for 1998


Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

The 10 most powerful companies in enterprise networking 2022