Retailers and owners of high-end and advanced cars could be excused for thinking the latest gadgets and gizmos, including keyless locking systems, offer them a sophisticated theft deterrent. However, this is not always the case – in terms of vehicle security, what technology provides, it also takes away.
Footage widely circulated on social media recently shows that there is no room for complacency. The film shows two enterprising vehicle thieves in the Midlands driving away a Mercedes from outside the owner’s home, even though the key fob was inside the property.
The thieves can be clearly seen on CCTV using two signal relay boxes. They hold one against a garage door to pick up the signal from the electronic key fob, where it passes to the second box, held against the car door, and then to the ignition. It all takes seconds, and is done with shocking calmness and ease.
Well organised vehicle thefts UK-wide
Such social media exposure could be said to be helpful in making UK car retailers and owners more aware of the dangers, but other people argue that having footage circulating virally is a great way for the criminal fraternity to pick up new ideas.
Indeed, the footage possibly shows the work of thieves who are stealing to order. In this situation, they have a list of valuable vehicles they know are in demand, and scope out opportunities to acquire just the right make and model. Drive a vehicle off your forecourt temporarily and they could be ready and waiting.
These are highly professional and organised gangs, who have the technical sophistication to stay one step ahead of the security systems installed by manufacturers.
Combating modern car thieves
How can vehicle owners and retailers combat such determined and well-equipped criminals? Firstly, use well secured garages and car storage facilities if they are available. You should also fit Thatcham-approved locks, which cover the whole steering wheel, if you do need to leave vehicles outside, even for a few minutes. Key fobs should be stored well, too.
Car dealers need to be ready to discuss with potential buyers the best ways of acquiring software updates for onboard systems. And, perhaps most importantly, if you retail high performance cars, you need to ensure that your motor trade insurance has truly got you covered.