independent

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Tech-savyy thieves now using jamming devices to steal cars

OWNERS of luxury cars here should be on the lookout for anyone 'hanging around' when they are locking their cars.

Because thieves have developed a sophisticated new way to steal expensive cars across Ireland without even breaking a window.

The thieves use a small, hand-held "jammer". This allows them to get inside the car without any breakage involved.

The device is made in China and costs under €100. It blocks the electronic signal sent by the owner's key to lock the car.

A thief stands near enough to the target car with the jammer while the owner 'zaps' it locked.

As soon as the owner goes, the thieves can get into the unlocked car and plug in a key-programming computer.

High performance cars here are now being taken using this method, it is believed.

Automobile Association (AA) corporate affairs manager Conor Faughnan said he had heard about cars being stolen in Ireland by thieves using such devices.

"I've heard it has happened here," he told the Irish Independent.

"Using this so-called grabber the thief has to be in your vicinity. As soon as you press your key fob to lock the car, he sends a signal from his device which blocks out your signal."

Mr Faughnan said such devices were being used as part of the growing industry here in the theft of luxury cars.

Some of these cars were being stolen to order, then being stripped down, loaded in flatpack boxes and shipped out to countries such as Nigeria, which has a right-hand drive system similar to Ireland.

The cars are then re-assembled and sold.

Mr Faughan added: "Our advice is that you should never just lock your car with the key fob and walk away. Always click the handle to make sure it is locked."

Because the devices they use are easily bought over the internet, there is every reason to suspect they are being used here.

According to the reports they are using a hi-tech device, which can be easily bought, to get into the car. Then as soon as they are inside they access the car's computer system.

They bring a second electronic device into play (it is also available on the internet). In doing so they reprogramme a blank key to start the vehicle.

And it appears it can all be done in a matter of minutes.

Car manufacturers say they are looking to close the security loophole. But the companies are reluctant to say which models are affected to avoid alerting thieves.

Keyless entry systems were originally restricted to mainly luxury brands but are now commonplace.

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