luxury cars stolen by remote control in 10 seconds

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Keyless Car Theft

Luxury cars are now being stolen through remote control

The head of the An Garda Síochána national stolen vehicle investigation unit, Detective Superintendent Michael Mullen has made a public appeal to motorists to be more careful as car thieves are circumventing car security and stealing vehicles by remote control.

The car thieves can redirect the electronic signal from your key fob even when it is inside your house. A specific warning has gone out to car owners who have keyless entry and Gardaí are asking for car owners to be extra vigilant and take precautions to make this hard for the would-be car thieves.

The latest figures revealed by the guards is that more than 10 per cent of vehicles stolen in Ireland are being taken by criminals who have never gained access to the keys.

The criminals can remotely hack your key fob with a frequency reading device which redirects the wireless signal from the fob which is inside your home. When they intercept the signal, they can clone the signal and gain access to your car without any problem. They can start the vehicle normally and make their escape with your property.

luxury cars stolen by remote control

Anecdotally, some car owners are attempting to counteract the criminals by leaving their keys in the microwave or the freezer to block the signal. This seems quite extreme though, as all you may need to do is leave your keys wrapped in aluminium foil as this can act as a faraday cage for your key?

A total of 139 vehicles were reportedly stolen this way in the first nine months of 2019 according to unpublished Garda statistics. The majority of the cars stolen were taken from properties in Counties Dublin and Kildare. It would seem that favourite cars for criminals to steal are Nissan, Toyota and BMW models.

One gang though in Northern Ireland are concentrating on high-end cars like Range Rovers and Land Rovers. Sixteen "luxury" cars were taken in one spate of thefts across Down and Armagh.

The head of the Garda's national stolen vehicle investigation unit, Detective Superintendent Michael Mullen, has appealed to motorists to be more careful and take preventative measures wherever they can. 

He said that car owners should ensure their vehicles are locked when parked outside their homes. If you own a garage, you should park your car there inside the locked building.  It is also suggested that you buy a blocking wallet (faraday pouch), lined with metallic material, which can help to prevent the signal from being compromised. 

Key Fob Pouch

Alternatively, motorists can turn to an old-fashioned device, a steering column lock, which can prevent the thieves from driving away. You can also invest in a GPS tracking device that can be fitted to the car and also have CCTV cameras installed at your place of residence as a deterrent. 

The technology is there which allows motorists to unlock their cars without even pressing a button so theses same frequencies can be easily intercepted and used to steal your car. So motorists are also being advised to keep all their keys, including spare keys, well away from exterior doors and walls as research suggests that some keyless models can be stolen within 10 seconds.

Criminals are working together in twos and they are able to trick the technology. One of the crims will stand close to your home and the other will stand near your car, and they can relay the signal from your key fob from within your home using an amplifier to boost the signal as a jump to your car.


Justin Kavanagh
Justin Kavanagh is a recognised leader in automotive intelligence and vehicle data supply to the entire motor industry. He has almost 20 years experience in building systems from the ground up. As the Managing Director of Vehicle Management System, he understands the need and importance of trustworthy and reliable vehicle history and advice to both the trade and the public.
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