Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gone in 60 Seconds; Police Warn Motorists after Spate of Keyless Car Thefts in London

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gone in 60 Seconds; Police Warn Motorists after Spate of Keyless Car Thefts in London

Article excerpt

Byline: David Churchill, Barney Davis and Justin Davenport

THIS is the moment thieves use a gadget to override a PS50,000 BMW's keyless security system and steal it in less than a minute.

Police are investigating a spate of thefts in London in which criminals have driven cars away from homes without taking the owners' keys. Experts say gangs are finding new ways to exploit weaknesses in technology that allows cars to be opened without touching a key and started by pushing a button.

Thieves use gadgets which amplify signals between the car and new-generation keyfobs to trick the vehicle into thinking the owner is nearby. When the car receives the signal, it unlocks, even though the keyfob may be some distance away. Thefts involving such "relay attacks" are said to be increasing.

Today the Met said it was aware of the tactic and urged motorists to take precautions. Victims have shared CCTV footage of the thefts online. The Stand-ard has established that at least four people in north London have had highvalue cars stolen in recent weeks by thieves using relay attacks.

One victim's BMW was stolen from his drive in Southgate on Tuesday. Within half an hour, the same thieves drove off with his friend's car nearby. Another victim, gym owner Graham Sinclair, 44, had his PS85,000 BMW X5 stolen from his Enfield drive in the early hours of Friday. He said: "I was actually awake until 4am and never heard a thing and the car was less than 20 metres away from me. There were no signs of forced entry and no break-in at the house.

"I reported it to BMW to see if they could immobilise but they couldn't... these thieves are evolving fast and manufacturers need to match them."

Steve Launchbury, head of research at vehicle security experts Thatcham Research, said more cases of relay attacks were coming to light. Devices were available on the Dark Web for thousands of pounds and likely to be bought by organised gangs. He said Thatcham had built such gadgets at relatively low cost. …

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