Keyless ‘relay car theft’ team hits more luxury vehicle owners

The 17 plate BMW 520D Luxury Auto Estate stolen from Chaworth Road, West Bridgford, in the latest theft.

Thieves have again stolen a high-performance car from Nottinghamshire a home using a technique which means they can get in and drive off without the keys.

Police believe ‘relay car theft’ is being used by a team of criminals targeting cars in the county while they are still parked outside the owner’s homes.

The technique involves copying the signals of the fobs used to open high-end keyless entry cars.

Overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday (April 11) a 17 plate BMW 520D Luxury Auto Estate was taken from from Chaworth Road, West Bridgford.

It comes after a series of other, similar thefts in south Notts in the last week.

A Notts Police police spokesman said: “This is another theft where the victim is still in possession of both sets of keys, and it is therefore suspected the vehicle was taken by means of ‘relay car theft’ where the identity of your key inside is cloned from the outside, allowing access and means of starting the vehicle.”

They added: “Over the past week we have received numerous reports of overnight theft of vehicles where the victim is still in possession of their vehicle keys, including their spare.”

The thefts can be carried out when one person ‘pings’ a car’s keyless locking system with a transmitter device.

Graphic: How the technique is used by theives. (Photo: Notts Police)

The locking system then responds by sending the signal the real key is supposed to reply to. The first thief’s transmitter then forwards this signal on to another transmitter held by an accomplice who is stood close to the house with a second transmitter.

This second device then sends the signal on to the real fob inside the house, which responds with the correct signal. This correct response is then relayed back through the devices, opening and starting the car.

Police have taken the unusual step of detailing how the crime is probably being carried out to alert owners to the seriousness of the flaw.

Officers are advising people to move their keys away from entry points in the house – as storing them out of sight is not enough.

The spokesman added: “Check if your keyless entry fob can be turned off. If it can, and your dealer can also confirm this, then do so overnight.

“Be vigilant. Keep an eye out for suspicious activity in your neighbourhood – and report anything unusual to the Police.

“Review your car security. Check for aftermarket security devices such as mechanical locks and trackers, which are proven to deter thieves.”


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