Brits get low key take on X-Files style mystery

Residents of a British street have been baffled by their electronic car key fobs suddenly stopping working. It’s led to a host of theories, some more outlandish than others.

The BBC reports that the key fobs in Dimond Road, Southampton stopped working last Saturday. It appears to be some sort of problem with interference with the frequencies on which the fobs transmit to the vehicles, but there’s no clear culprit. A nearby airport hasn’t changed any frequencies lately, and there’s no evidence to back a theory that a cellphone tower could be responsible.

Posters at one conspiracy theory forum, possibly with different levels of seriousness or humor, have suggested explanations including alien interference, an experiment with electromagnetic pulses, pranksters using remote controls, a secret military frequency, buried Roman lead reacting with the soil.

A similar incident last year in another British town, Windermere, took many months to solve, during which it’s reported some security vans were temporarily stranded. It eventually became clear the interference was caused by hand-held terminals at a nearby restaurant. The owner explained that the terminals had been supplied at a pre-set frequency but he was able to have the manufacturers change it to solve the problem.

That may not be the solution in the Southampton case as there don’t appear to be any retail outlets in the immediate vicinity. Another possible explanation is the one that caused a similar incident in a parking lot in 2007, namely a fault with one of the cars that caused it to transmit blocking signals.

(Image credit: Google Maps)

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4 Responses to Brits get low key take on X-Files style mystery

  1. I didn't know what the heck a "Fob" was so had to look it up:

    "A small electronic security token, often called a key fob
    A Frequency Operated Button"

    • I didnt know what FOB stood for either. thats kinda lame lol. sounded more sophisticated than "frequently operated button" -.-

      • Apologies for not realising the term isn't known internationally. As far as I know, it's not an acronym — fob isn't just an electronic device, but can mean any object you have on your keyring other than keys, either for decoration, to weigh it down in your pocket, or to make it easier to pull out of your pocket.

  2. Some locations in North America started seeing strange interference when the electricity companies switched to RF meters. Instead of a meter reader visiting a house, they just drive around neighbourhoods wirelessly reading the meters. Apparently some of the equipment used isn't entirely in spec and can cause interference with various other RF devices.