Hi-tech car thieves use £30 jamming devices in car parks

Pierluigi Paganini May 24, 2015

Hi-tech car thieves use £30 jamming devices in car parks, the devices allow them to bypass car coding and reprogramme vehicles before driving off in them.

Car thieves are becoming even more technological, we have read many news regarding hackers that designed specific solutions to hack car through the internal CAN bus or simply to unlock car doors with a trivial hack.

Modern cars suffer many types of attacks, today I desire to show you an attack occurred recently in the UK.

Vehicles at the Manchester Fort Shopping Park, in north Manchester, had their locks jammed during the last weekend. On Sunday evening, all the clients at the Manchester Fort Shopping Park, were not able to lock the doors of their cars. The choice of day and time of the attack is not casual and gives to the attackers the greatest likelihood of success and allowed them to hit a large number of clients.

The investigators discovered that the incident was caused by a criminal gang operating in that area.

car lock jamming

The owners of the cars without manual locking had no choice, they left their car open exposed to thieves.

Hi-tech car thieves were jamming the signal to every car in the Shopping Park with £30 jamming devices bought over the internet, people present shared a video clip on Facebook. The jamming devices are available for sale on the Internet, they have been the subject of recent police warnings via local paper the Manchester Evening News.

“Hi-tech gadgets that allow villains to steal cars without breaking into them are for sale on the internet for as little as £30, the M.E.N. can reveal. The devices help criminals bypass car coding and reprogramme vehicles before driving off in them. Darron Tickle, GMP crime reduction specialist, says the gadgets are having an affect on both policing and insurance firms – with victims now struggling to prove their car has been broken into if there are no signs of damage.One method of stealing is ‘signal jamming’ where a thief sends a code on radio frequency as you lock your car with the remote fob to bar the signal. It means the car doesn’t actually lock.” reported the Manchester Evening News.

The cars remained open leaving thieves free to plunder anything from the cars in Park. Law enforcement also warned that the same jamming devices allow cyber criminals to bypass car coding and re-program vehicles before steal them.

“It was very eerie and there were so many confused people trying to lock their doors to no avail,” explained Autumn DePoe-Hughes who shared the video on Facebook. “Someone else had complete control over all of our cars for well over half an hour.” explained the woman. “We were there for at least a half an hour and according to people around us, it had been going on before we got there. It was continuing as we left, so I don’t know how long it continued on.The mall was closing up for the day and we had no way to secure the boot (trunk) of our car, so we left. We were unable to lock the car with the fobs throughout our time there and the same happened to those around us, including one very confused mother. I went around speaking to people and they all confirmed that they could not lock their cars and couldn’t figure out what was going on. They all thought their cars needed to be repaired.”

The experts also explained that this kind of thefts has serious implications for the victims that face difficulties claiming for their losses against car insurance because the car locks were left open.

“We get incidents where on one street three car thefts have occurred overnight and there’s no sign of entry into the vehicle. In these cases, you can make the assumption that jamming is going on. But the only way we’d know is if we caught the offender with a device on them.” said Mr Tickle.

“Some of the other new technology, like code grabbing – where an offender uses a device to steal the code used when you automatically lock the car – isn’t one I have a particular concern about because most cars have a rotating changing code. But signal jamming, though, is an issue. ”

Criminals using these jamming devices are targeting places where there are many vehicles, including car parks.

Recently I published a report to explain the significant increase for keyless cars, in October 2014 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 manufacturers.

Hi-tech car thieves are also using reprogramming device that could be used to steal cars by connecting them to the on-board diagnostics port.

“They are little devices from Eastern European countries on ebay. You can reprogramme the computer of the car to recognise a different key or make it start without a key. Many members of the public aren’t aware of this.” Mr Tickle added.

The suggestion for the car owners is to ensure their car is locked by checking the handle, look and listen for the lock to engage and the lights to flash.

Pierluigi Paganini

Security Affairs –  (cars, cybercrime)

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