The number of Keyless cars thefts is rising

Pierluigi Paganini October 31, 2014

According to a UK motoring industry group and authorities keyless cars ‘increasingly targeted by thieves, which are using computers e dedicated equipment.

According to a UK motoring industry group, criminal organizations are increasingly targeting high-end cars with keyless security systems.  The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) confirmed that car thieves are using dedicated equipment to access the cars and circumvent security designed by manufactures.

While car theft has fallen from 318,000 in 2002 to 77,500 in the last twelve months (source:UK Office for National Statistics), thefts involving computer equipment are rising.

Modern cars allow keyless entry and ignition using a fob that the driver carries with it, keyless systems represent the unique obstacle to steal a car. In response, criminals have been using equipment that is able to re-programme remote-entry keys.

“The criminal act of stealing vehicles through the re-programming of remote-entry keys is an on-going industry-wide problem,” said Jaguar Land Rover. “Our line-up continues to meet the insurance industry requirements as tested and agreed with relevant insurance bodies.””Nevertheless we are taking this issue very seriously and our engineering teams are actively working in collaboration with insurance bodies and police forces to solve this continuously evolving problem.”

Modern vehicles are equivalent to complex networks that connect different control units used to control modern cars, for this reason, criminals are exploring hacking techniques to bypass security measures.

The number of thefts that exploit technological means is increasing and according to the news reported by the BBC several London-based owners of Range Rovers have been denied insurance over the issue.

“High-end motor insurers are refusing to cover new Range Rovers in London after a series of thefts. In what could be a serious blow to Jaguar Land Rover, underwriters are declining to insure Range Rovers unless the owners have underground or secure parking. The problem has grown so rapidly in the past three months that insurers and insurance brokers have asked to meet Jaguar Land Rover to discuss the issue.” states a post published by The Times.

Keyless cars thefts is rising 1

The US National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) confirmed the increase in the number of keyless car thefts operated with computers and other high-tech equipment. The Times reported the position of insurers AIG which refused insurance cover to a motorist, explaining that every case must be analyzed singularly.

“We do not have a blanket policy to exclude certain vehicles from cover.” “Given the increasing likelihood that replacement vehicles may be a target for thieves we may ask for additional security measures such as secure off-road parking.”

The insurance companies require customers the availability of a secure private garaging or the installation of mechanically removable bollards.

“Whilst BMWs and Audis appeared to be the early targets, it’s fair to say that this was largely associated with their desirability across Europe, rather than any specific security lapse.”

“Recently we’ve seen evidence of a range of makes and models being affected, including the Ford Fiesta and Focus, Range Rover Evoque and also now including light commercial vehicles such as the volume-selling Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter.” reports a Thatcham Research confirming the scale of the phenomenon.

The main problem to persecute the criminals is that equipment used is anyway licit and it is ordinarily used by specialized repair shops and by car dealerships for maintanance.

“The challenge remains that the equipment being used to steal a vehicle in this way is legitimately used by workshops to carry out routine maintenance,” a The Supporting & promoting the UK automotive industry (SMMT) spokesman said. “As part of the need for open access to technical information to enable a flourishing after-market, this equipment is available to independent technicians. However a minority of individuals are exploiting this to obtain the equipment to access vehicles fraudulently.” “We need better safeguards within the regulatory framework to make sure this equipment does not fall into unlawful hands and, if it does, that the law provides severe penalties to act as an effective deterrent.”

Will the experts find an answer to the problem?


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Pierluigi Paganini

Security Affairs –  (cars, cybercrime)

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