Car tracking expert Tracker has warned that car thieves are using a clever new technique to steal cars from outside their owners’ homes using keyless entry systems.
The so-called ‘relay’ method uses two criminals working together. One stands near the door of the owner’s home, within range of the car’s key fob. A device used by the crooks then picks up the key fob signal from inside the house and relays it to the car. If it’s successful, the criminals can start the car and drive away within seconds.
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“At Tracker, we are seeing more thefts recorded as ‘stolen without the keys’ which suggests that electronic manipulation and cyber compromise are on the increase,” said Tracker’s head of police liason, Andy Barrs. “The new relay attack technique has gained significant ground in the US and Germany, but it’s also beginning to take hold in the UK, so vehicle owners need to protect themselves and their assets.”
German research reveals BMWs and Peugeots are most likely to be targeted using keyless techniques, but testers have managed to unlock a wide variety of vehicles using the relay method. The BMW 7 Series, Toyota Prius, Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus are the most affected, says Tracker.
Barrs adds: “As relay attacks become even more prevalent, owners need to protect themselves, particularly since criminal gangs are routinely using relay devices to exploit weaknesses in keyless security systems across a broad range of manufacturers. These tools are readily available on the internet for as little as £80 and thefts typically occur in residential areas, where cars are parked relatively close to the house, especially at night.”