By Suzanne Le Mignot

CHICAGO (CBS) —  It’s the latest target for car thieves. It’s not a Chevy or Jeep. It’s a device. It doesn’t look like much, but for crooks, it’s the key to quickly getting behind the wheel of as many cars as they want.

As CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reported, police have now issued a warning.

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Robbers are targeting locksmiths and their fob programmers. Detectives issued an alert about two incidents and another one that happened just five days ago.

“He was scared. He was afraid, not knowing if you’re going to live in a situation like that.”

Michael Payton talked about how a mobile locksmith was feeling after he was held at gunpoint near 38th and Wabash five days ago. Payton said the locksmith told him something strange.

“Someone called and said their keys were locked inside the car and when he got there, they pulled out weapons and took whatever property, equipment he had in the vehicle,” Payton said.

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The locksmith was robbed at gunpoint in broad daylight. The robbery is similar to two others involving mobile locksmiths. Police said in each case, the victims were responding to requests to reprogram vehicle keys.

When they arrived, they were surrounded by two to four armed men, then their vehicle reprogramming devices and key fobs were taken.

Area 2 detectives put out an alert about two other incidents in Washington Heights and Auburn Gresham on Oct. 4 and Oct. 25. Both happened during the day.

An employee at Curtis Key & Lock Service in Grand Crossing showed how the key programmer works.  It’s not difficult to make a new key fob.

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The owner of Curtis Key & Lock Service said for safety reasons, when cars need new fobs they have them towed to their business.

Suzanne Le Mignot