Michael O'Dell mo at
Fri Jul 4 10:14:43 CDT 2008

Andre Kesteloot wrote:
> When residents of a Philadelphia suburb complained
> <>
> to an area television station about how their remote car door entry
> devices wouldn't work in the parking lot of a local department store, an
> investigative reporter for NBC-10 (WCAU) called everyone she could to
> help her discover why. No one knew anything -- until she called on some
> local ham radio operators.
> "Many people lock and unlock a car by remote and don't even give it a
> second thought unless it doesn't work," said NBC10 reporter Lu Ann Cahn.
> "The mystery problem repeatedly occurs outside the Kohl's store in
> Royersford. When I went into Kohl's [to ask about this], they told me
> they had no idea [about this]."
> Cahn said that shoppers told her that this has been going on for more
> than a year, and that some shoppers don't realize they might have to
> manually lock their doors: "One woman reported her laptop was stolen
> from her car after she thought she had locked it."
> Shoppers theorized that it was the local power plant causing the
> interference, but Cahn said that officials at the plant said it wasn't
> them. Others thought that cellular telephone towers might be the
> culprit, but there are no cell towers in the area. "Police tell us that
> they can't figure it out either," Cahn said.
> So after calling numerous places to help her out with this mystery, Cahn
> happened upon Reggie Leister, N3KAS, and Bob Rex, K3DBD, of the
> Pottstown Area Amateur Radio Club <>; Rex is Vice
> President of the club and Leister is the club's Public Information
> Officer (PIO). And as hams do, they were quick to volunteer to help out.
> Leister and Rex accompanied Cahn to the parking lot in question. Rex
> built an antenna out of aluminum tubing and hooked it up to a spectrum
> analyzer. "Somewhere in the vicinity of this parking lot," Leister said,
> "there is a big source of radiation, some sort of signal." When Leister
> aimed the antenna in the direction of the Kohl's store, he hit pay dirt.
> "There are actually two signals there. It looks like [they're] coming
> from the building," Rex said when he read the analyzer.
> Leister and Rex moved in closer to the building and pinpointed that one
> signal was coming from one set of doors, while the other signal emitted
> from another set of doors. Rex, an engineer, said that the thing that
> bothers him about this is that the signals "are running constantly."
> When Cahn approached Kohl's management with their findings, she was told
> that "they will look into it."
> "The FCC licenses radio signals and these ham radio operators say the
> fact that some signal is interfering with remote locks isn't good," Cahn
> said in her report. Rex concurred, saying, "The FCC rules are pretty
> clear on that. It might be something that's broken." Leister and Rex
> agreed that the store security sensors located at each set of doors
> might be the culprit.
> Three days after Leister and Rex located the source of the interference,
> remote car door lockers worked again. "Kohl's will only say that they're
> working on it," Cahn said. "The FCC says it does sound like something
> malfunctioned and they have had reports of similar incidents in New York
> City and Tampa, Florida."
> A few days after they found the signals, Leister explained that he and
> Rex did not think the anti-shoplifting detectors were the problem: "What
> we are guessing here is that they are probably connected to some kind of
> device that triggers a security camera to come on if there is a breach.
> Except instead of just sending out a quick 2-5 second (Part 15) blip,
> these seem to be on continuously and exceeding the permissible signal
> levels."
> Cahn was quick to give on-air credit to the local hams who stepped up to
> the plate and helped crack this mystery: "We here at NBC10 were so
> curious as to why these remote car locks would just stop working, so we
> thought we should really try to solve this mystery. I have to give kudos
> to Reggie Leister and Bob Rex with the Pottstown Area Amateur Radio
> Club. They were so great and so excited. You don't know how many people
> we called -- police, Triple A, car dealerships -- we called so many
> people trying to figure this out and nobody knew anything until we
> talked to these ham radio operators. They were so wonderful and they
> knew all about radio signals. They created their own gadgets to help us
> figure this out. We really want to thank them for their help with this."
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one might wonder why the station engineers didn't have
a flutter of insight. or maybe the reporters didn't
realize they might have some clue on-staff?

i would like to know how she "ran across" the hams


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