Stolen car recovered in 56 minutes
A BMW that was stolen by thieves who hacked into the car's keyless system has been returned to its driver less than an hour after he reported its disappearance.
The motor was stolen from the driveway of a South East London motorist and searched by the criminals for any security trackers in a quiet country lane, before being driven to a housing estate in East London.
The thieves likely planned to return to collect the car later but experts from the vehicle owner, AX, were able to activate an untraceable device in the car and quickly despatch a team to recover the vehicle.
In what is believed to be Britain's fastest ever recovery of a stolen vehicle, the BMW was handed back to its driver just 56 minutes after being taken by the thieves.
'We received the call from the owner at 9.11am, when he discovered the car was stolen,' explained Neil Thomas, director of the AX Protect team. 'Within seconds, we had located the vehicle, studied its movements and were quickly able to ascertain the likely next move of the thieves so acted immediately to recover it.'
Keyless system car theft is an increasingly common tactic used by gangs of car thieves, who use relay amplifiers and transmitters to boost the signal of a car key inside a house and tricking the car into thinking the entry fob is closer than it is, allowing the gang to unlock the vehicle. Many cars stolen using this method are stolen to order and are either sold abroad or broken down for parts to sell.
Dealer fleets could be vulnerable, too. While most modern dealers invest in security including CCTV, a recent incident in Manchester where 15 cars were stolen in an overnight raid shows the industry needs to consider other ways of protecting their fleets.
The rise in keyless thefts has been blamed for the 48.7% spike in the number of cars stolen in the last five years nationally. Keyless thefts are particularly prevalent in cities, with police in Manchester citing it as responsible for a 44% increase in thefts and West Midlands police claiming it has accounted for the number of cars stolen tripling since 2015.
The use of keyless technology has also been held responsible for the £271m paid out in car insurance claims last year – a surge of a third on the previous 12 months.
Approximately one per cent of the cars on the UK's road are estimated to use keyless technology, equating to around 320,000 vehicles that could be vulnerable to the tactic. The proportion will be significantly higher for dealer vehicles.