Gone in less than 60 seconds: Shocking moment masked car thieves steal £17,000 Nissan from owners driveway using relay device to scan key fob through front door
- A white Nissan Juke from Hawkswell Drive, Willenhall, in the West Midlands
- Thieves used an aerial relay to take the car in less than a minute from the drive
- CCTV footage shared by a family member shows the criminals use the device
Masked car thieves stole a £17,000 Nissan from an owner’s driveway in less than a minute by using a relay device to scan a key fob through the front door.
The burglars were caught on CCTV using an aerial relay to steal a white Nissan Juke from outside the property in Hawkswell Drive, Willenhall, on Friday, October 30.
Criminals carrying out so-called ‘relay’ thefts work in teams of two, using equipment to capture electromagnetic signals emitted by key fobs.
One thief stands by the car with a transmitter, while the other stands by the house with device that picks up the signal from the electronic key, opening the vehicle’s door.
Masked car thieves steal a £17,000 Nissan from an owner’s driveway in Hawkswell Drive, Willenhall, in less than a minute by using a relay device to scan a key fob through the front door
The footage posted by a family member shows the thieves stealing the car in less than 60 seconds at around 5am.
In the video, a man wearing a white balaclava stands at the front porch of a house while another stands next to the door of a car.
He lifts the relay device as his accomplice stands by but nothing happens.
They walk over to another house and try the same thing and the car’s lights flash on almost instantly before one climbs into the vehicle.
The other man peers into the fronts of the neighbouring houses before the man in the car starts the engine.
They walk over to another house and try the same thing and the car’s lights flash on almost instantly before one climbs into the vehicle
The burglars were caught on CCTV using an aerial relay to steal a white Nissan Juke from outside the property
He begins to drive off and the man holding the relay runs back to another car, which trails behind him.
Experts have issued advice as to how drivers can protect themselves from falling victim to relay theft, including storing fobs and keys away from doors.
Other security suggestions include using wheel locks, having car windows security etched or using a car cover, as it will take considerably longer to gain access to the car.
Any vehicle with keyless entry could be vulnerable to relay theft.
High-tech car thieves working together can steal your keyless car within a few seconds
It is not illegal to sell or own a relay box device and the only way police can arrest someone is under the ‘going equipped to steal’ law — meaning they would have to catch the thief red-handed with it, or prove an intent to use it for theft.
Richard Billyeald, vehicle security expert 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.
‘We are working closely with the police and vehicle manufacturers to address this vulnerability, continuing our approach that has driven vehicle crime down 80 per cent from its peak in 1992.’
West Midlands Police confirmed officers were investigating the theft and urged anyone with information to contact them on 101, quoting 20WV/265278T/20.
How do thieves steal your car without the keys? The hi-tech ‘relay’ gadget that uses signals to unlock vehicles parked outside homes
What is relay theft?
Relay theft occurs when two thieves work together to break into cars which have keyless entry systems.
The thieves can use equipment to capture signals emitted by certain keys which are used to start new vehicles.
One thief stands by the car with a transmitter, while the other stands by the house with another, which picks up the signal from the key which is usually kept near the front door on a table or hook.
This is then relayed to the other transmitter by the vehicle, causing it to think the key is in close proximity and prompting it to open. Thieves can then drive the vehicle away and quickly replace the locks and entry devices.
Technically, any vehicle with keyless entry could be vulnerable to relay theft.
These included cars from BMW, Ford, Audi, Land Rover, Hyundai, Volkswagen and Mercedes cars.
How can you protect your vehicle against relay theft?
According to research by the Institute of the Motor Industry, over half of motorists are worried their car could be accessed and stolen by remote thieves.
Fifty per cent of people surveyed weren’t aware that their car might be vulnerable to cyber attacks, and while drivers shouldn’t become paranoid about the safety of their car it’s always a good idea to take precautions.
This has long been a necessary precaution in order to avoid car theft, but it’s important to make sure that your key is as far from the front door as possible so its signal can’t be picked up.
As hacking devices get more sophisticated, they may be able to pick up signals from further away.
This may seem a bit excessive, but a metal box could be the best place to store your keys overnight as the metal could block the signal being detected.
Lorna Connelly, head of claims at Admiral, said: ‘Unfortunately, we do see a claims from customers who have had their cars stolen due to relay theft and it’s a problem that we would advise motorists with keyless cars to be aware of.
‘Despite progresses in anti-theft technology, thieves are always coming up with new ways to make off with your vehicle.
‘We are urging all of our customers to keep their keys a safe distance from the door and consider storing them in a metal box. While this may seem like an extreme solution, relay theft is an extreme practice.’
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