With car security systems getting ever more sophisticated, thieves are having to get increasingly ingenious in their quest to deprive motorists of their pride and joy.
By and large, new cars are usually impossible to steal without the keys – something that has led to a rise in burglaries and car-jackings. Now, however, car thieves are resorting to electronic hacking, to fool the car’s electronic brain into thinking the key is present.
It’s not the preserve of a minority of criminals either. The Metropolitan Police has stated that 47 per cent of the 21,000 vehicles stolen in London last year were subject to some form of electronic security hacking.
The problem is made worse by the fact that the gadgets needed to commit this hi-tech theft can be bought cheaply online, and can be used to create blank keys.
Thinking that the key is present, the majority of security devices fitted to cars simply disable themselves. Experts warn that one of the few ways of protecting yourself against this form of vehicle theft is to install a third party tracking system, which the police can use to locate your car should it be taken.
It is perhaps no surprise that vehicles from premium brands – whose security systems would have otherwise rendered them largely safe – have been targeted. In 2013, the average value of a stolen vehicle was £40,000 – a rise of £6,000 over the previous year.
Security firms have been warning for some time about the vulnerability of modern car security systems to hacking, with one Spanish company even going to the lengths of creating its own hacking device to highlight how easy and cheap the whole process is.
Car manufacturers are currently working on improving the security of their electronic systems to prevent further vehicles from being stolen in this way.
Have you ever had your car stolen through electronic hacking? Have your say below.