Watch: Thieves steal car by hacking keyless entry system
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CCTV footage has captured the moment car theives stole a near-new Mercedes-Benz C-Class, unlocked and started without the use of a key.
The video was released by West Midlands Police on their YouTube channel showing what is believed to be the first 'relay crime' captured on film.
The video shows two men pulling up outside the victim’s house, both carrying what is believed to be relay boxes. The devices are capable of receiving signals through walls, doors and windows, but not metal.
One of the theives can be seen attempting to access the Mercedes' key fob signal, while the other waits by the car on the driveway.
Once the signal is captured by one device, it is passed through to a second box held near the car, unlocking the vehicle.
West Midlands Police said the C-Class has yet to be recovered, but officer Mark Silverster said there are ways for owners to protect against such thefts.
“To protect against this type of theft, owners can use an additional tested and Thatcham-approved steering lock to cover the entire steering wheel. We also recommend Thatcham-approved tracking solutions fitted to the vehicle,” he said.
Thatcham Research is an independent automotive safety and repair watchdog in the UK, and the organisation has released a statement offering guidence to concerned drivers.
"The ‘transmitter relay’ attack seen in the footage exploits a vulnerability in a vehicle’s keyless entry system, with criminals amplifying or capturing the signal from a keyless or ‘smart’ fob," they said in a statement.
"Keyless fobs, which should not be confused with standard remote fobs, allow drivers to easily open and start their vehicle without pressing the fob or even having to remove it from their pocket.
Richard Billyeald, chief technical officer at Thatcham Research said, “Keyless entry systems on cars offer convenience to drivers, but can in some situations be exploited by criminals. Concerned drivers should contact their dealer for information and guidance, and follow our simple security steps.”
Thatcham Research security tips for drivers with keyless entry systems:
- Contact your dealer and talk about the digital features in your car. Have there been any software updates you can take advantage of?
- Check if your keyless entry fob can be turned off. If it can, and your dealer can also confirm this, then do so overnight.
- Store your keys away from household entry points. Keeping your keyless entry fob out of sight is not enough – thieves only need to gain proximity to the key to amplify the signal.
- 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.