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Criminals using technology to steal cars rather than 'traditional' methods

Date: 10 August 2017   |   Author: Daniel Puddicombe

Vehicle tracking company Tracker has warned that car criminals are increasingly stealing vehicles using technology as opposed to 'traditional' methods.

According to reports from the firm, thieves are now using 'relay attacks' to overcome security technology such as immobilisers and keyless entry systems.

Tracker said the 'attack' involves two people - one near the vehicle being targeted and the other near the front door of the owner's home so the relay device can get in range of the vehicle's key fob. The relay tool then picks up the key fob signal and relays it back to the car.

According to Tracker, using this method thieves are able to drive away in stolen vehicles "within seconds" and there was a 10% year-on-year increase in the number of vehicles stolen without keys between 2015 and 2016.

"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 Andy Barrs, head of police liaison at Tracker. "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."

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 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 and more vigilance needs to be taken across the board; this includes car owners, manufacturers, dealers, insurers and the police. We also urge motorists to remember that whilst a tracking device won't stop a car being stolen, it can significantly increase the chances of the police locating and returning it to its rightful owner."