This story is over 5 years old.

The VICE Guide to Right Now

Something Spooky Is Screwing With Key Fobs in This Small Alberta Town

This parking lot mystery is straight outta ‘Twin Peaks.’
Alberta Peaks update
Left: Twin Peaks Title GeneratorRight: ABC/Getty

In the small Albertan community of Carstairs, something strange is happening—something so out of this world they’ve had to call in the feds.

What is it you ask? Well, my dear reader, their key fobs are acting weird.

Before you laugh, this is a legitimately weird and unexplained occurrence. It’s localized to the parking lot surrounding a local grocery store—the the Westview Co-op—in the small central Alberta town of 4,000. And it’s been going on for a few weeks now.


Some cars in the lot won’t unlock or start, while other cars’ alarm systems are set off by what could possibly be a glitch in the matrix. Whatever the cause, it’s freakin’ pandemonium up in that Carstairs parking lot, I tell you what. According to the CBC, it’s gotten to the point where some people are actually scared to go to the co-op because they don’t know if they’ll be able to get home without a hassle.

Now, you would think that this would be simple enough to figure out, right? Like how many things out there—especially in a small town—could be doing this very particular thing? Well, at this point no one really knows, and it’s understandably annoying the hell out of the people who run the co-op. However, the CBC reports that it’s been a boon to the dollar store across the street, as frustrated motorists flock there to buy new batteries for their fobs.

The Westview Co-op haven’t just sat on the mystery, they’re actively attempting to solve it. In a Facebook post, the co-op offered their thanks to some local electricians for their “involvement in our investigation of the frequency interference that is impacting our Guests and Team Members.” Going beyond calling people in, they’ve taken some pretty extreme steps, like cutting all their power.

“Last night (January 28) we shut off all power sources in our store and the testing equipment revealed that the interference was still being emitted,” reads the post. This means we are confident that the signal is not coming from the Carstairs Food Store. In addition, please note the Carstairs Food Store does not have Wi-Fi, so that is not a possible source.”


Now, the coppers know about the issue but aren’t looking into it, telling CBC they don’t think it’s a “priority.” Stephen Kennedy, the store's asset protection manager, told the broadcaster that they’ve “partnered with neighbours, stakeholders and the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development." Hell yeah, guys, they’ve called in the feds!

Following the CBC story, conspiracy-loving corners of the internet have joined in the investigation. Several theories have been floated, from nearby construction to the possibility of a new security system implemented by a nearby business. At least one person thinks that it might come from the nefarious folks at the rail lines, asking: “are vehicles affected on the other side of the train tracks? That'd be my first guess is something that's been installed by CN for signaling or radio.”

Another amateur sleuth said that it’s likely an issue with their “shopping cart disabling system”—whatever that may be—and told the store to “drop the amperage of the system or split it into multiple runs to reduce the external interface.” Others blamed the local Tim Hortons, which is, you know, fair—always, when you can, blame Tim Hortons.

One user said that something similar happened in the small New Zealand town of Invercargill in which a local amateur radio operator was broadcasting 434.050MH—315 for North American built cars—the same frequency in which the fobs operate. Many, many others online have pointed out that most likely the issue is some sort of radio interference, but the cause of the problem is still unknown. This also happened a few years ago in Yonkers, New York, when a DJ’s light control panel sent out a frequency that interfered with key fobs.


The possibilities are seemingly endless but technical glitches aren’t that fun, so let’s move on to the good stuff.

“It's called a signal jammer. Illegal in Canada but easy to obtain,” wrote one CBC commenter. “If I were an irate customer, or a morally lacking competitor, this is something I might do to make their customers go away.” Now if I were just a tad bit more unethical, I might float the idea that the money-hungry capitalists at the dollar store were pulling of a scam in order to make a killing selling discounted batteries—but I’m not, I’m an ethical boy, so consider that idea not floated, please.

Some creative folks are pointing to the supernatural as an explanation. “It must be an angry spirit ?” writes the, at the time of writing, most recent commenter on the CBC story. On the co-op’s Facebook post, a man by the name Bruce Hudson got straight to the fucking point, writing “Aliens. … that’s all I have to say.” Another commenter on the CBC story agreed, writing, “UFO's are well known to interfere with electrical fields.”

And, you know what, gang? At the end of the day, I’m to have going to go with Bruce and his pals on this one.

Aliens it is.

Sign up for the VICE Canada Newsletter to get the best of VICE Canada delivered to your inbox.

Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.