What Car? gives warning to drivers on keyless vehicle safety
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Thieves smeared a CCTV camera to obscure the view of them using sophisticated relay devices to steal the car. The technology allowed the criminals to unlock the doors and start the engine without even having access to the owner’s original keyfob.
The family was at home at the time of the theft but it was not until the following they discovered the car was missing,
Using a tracking device installed in the car, police were able to take action and eventually located the vehicle.
However, a couple of weeks later the same car was stolen again by a different group of thieves.
The double attack raises fears Ford Focus models could be a potential target among keyless car thefts looking for a quick steal.
Martin Loftus, the owner of the Ford Focus ST said the family had taken precautions after their car was stolen by using a Faraday pouch, which blocks the device from being tapped into.
However, criminals then exploited the vehicle away from the home where it was more difficult to take precautions against theft.
He said: “We were really unlucky to have the vehicle stolen twice in very different and unrelated circumstances and within a relatively short time frame.
“The first time around we didn’t hear a thing. It wasn’t until the morning that we realised the vehicle was gone, and even then, we simply thought the car had been moved by one of the family; after much confusion, and a friendly family row, we realised it had been stolen.
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“After the car was stolen the first time, we invested in a Faraday pouch to keep the key fob in at home, to prevent its signals from being intercepted again.
“However, opportunistic thieves were quick to exploit the key’s technology when we were out and about, and hence the car was stolen again.”
According to vehicle safety experts at Tracker, thefts using relay devices have risen to an all-time high.
Recent analysis from the firm shows 93 percent of recovered vehicles had been stolen without the thief having possession of the keys.
This has increased from 92 percent in 2019 and represents a 27 percent rise over the last five years.
Clive Wain, Head of Police Liaison for Tracker said: “Not that long ago, thieves would typically break into homes to steal keys to retrieve cars.
“But as these thefts clearly show, technology – despite being extremely sophisticated – enables thieves to take cars within seconds using kit they can buy easily from the internet.
“Watching the CCTV footage from the first theft, before the camera lens was smeared, you can clearly see one thief waving a laptop bag by the front door, while two others leap into the vehicle once the key fob in the home had been triggered.”
Ford security expert Simon Hurr recently updated the firm’s security advice after reports of motorists key fibs being jammed.
He warned relay attack tools can “compromise security” while cars were being locked or left unattended.
He has urged road users to check for visual clues to ensure whether a car is double-locked before walking away.
He said drivers should not leave their key-free fobs near their front door or within range of a parked vehicle.
A Ford dealer will check every time a car is serviced for any new security upgrades to help road users.
In newer models produced from May 2019 fobs are also installed with a ‘sleep’ feature which cannot be overridden when inactive for longer than 40 seconds.
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