Buyers' advice, high tech, Motoring News, vehicle security, vehicle technology

New high-tech car-theft warning issued

LONDON, England – As the UK’s September registration plate change looms a reminder is served that more cars are stolen without keys as criminals exploit weaknesses in security technology

Today’s car criminals are far more likely to be computer-savvy than be able to hot-wire a car warns vehicle security company Tracker.

“Recent reports in the UK,” the company says, “indicate an growing new trend in vehicle theft termed ‘relay attack’ which harnesses more-sophisticated theft techniques to overcome vehicle security technology such as immobilisers and keyless entry systems.”


This attack uses a relay device and involves two criminals working. One stands near the car being targeted, the other near the front door of the owner’s home to get in range of the key fob. The device picks up the key fob signal from inside the house and relays it to the car.

The thieves can then drive away in a stolen vehicle in a matter of seconds.

Andy Barrs, head of police liaison at Tracker, told Carman’s Corner in a media release: “We’re seeing more thefts recorded as ‘stolen without key‘, which suggests electronic manipulation and cyber compromise are increasing.

“The relay attack technique has gained significant ground in the US and Germany but is now taking hold in the UK. Owners need to protect their vehicle.”


German research tested vehicles from 30 automakers and decided the particularly vulnerable brands were BMW and Peugeot. However, using a relay device, testers unlocked and started many vehicles, with BMW 7 Series, Ford Focus, Toyota Prius and VW Golf among the most affected.

Barrs added: “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 (about R1360 Aug 2017) and thefts typically occur in residential areas where cars are parked relatively close to the house, especially at night.

“It’s worth remembering that technology is just one part of vehicle security. More vigilance is needed across the board – this includes vehicle owners, manufacturers, dealers, insurers and the police. We also urge people to remember that, while a tracking device won’t stop a car being stolen, it can significantly increase the chances of its recovery.”

Tracker, unlike other stolen vehicle recovery devices, can locate a vehicle anywhere, even in a garage or shipping container, and has been doing so for 25 years.


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