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Vehicle thefts soar by a quarter as thieves use ‘hi-tech’ methods to steal cars

Thieves are reportedly using relay boxes to extend the fob signal from the house to the car to unlock the door (Getty Images)
Thieves are reportedly using relay boxes to extend the fob signal from the house to the car to unlock the door (Getty Images)

Thieves are reportedly using a “variety of hi-tech methods” to steal vehicles, with thefts having increased by more than a quarter last year.

Experts at AA Insurance Services say that thieves are using relay boxes to extend the fob signal from the house to the car to unlock the door, The Times reported.

AA Insurance previously explained how thieves used technology to target keyless cars: “Usually two thieves will work together. One holds a transmitter and stands next to the car while the other stands close to the property holding an amplifier.

“The amplifier can boost the signal from the key and send it to the transmitter. The transmitter essentially becomes a ghost key and tricks the car into thinking the real key is nearby. This then opens the car and allows it to be driven away without causing any damage.”

Thieves are also said to be using Bluetooth speakers to disguise hardware that can be used to steal cars.

What’s more, criminals are able to access some cars’ computers from outside by removing components that reveal wires giving them access to the locks.

New Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed that there were 130,389 vehicle thefts last year, an increase of 25 per cent compared with 2021.

It was reported in November that a gang stole around 72 cars, including Range Rovers, BMWs and Mercedes, from places in London and the South East between December 2019 and October 2020.

The gang used keyless technology to allow them to program a new digital key in seconds, giving them access to the car. They targeted cars on residential streets, driveways and dealership forecourts.

Although four men were jailed in that instance, it was reported last May that nearly nine in 10 car thefts go unsolved in London.

Analysis by the Liberal Democrats found that only 2.4 per cent of vehicle thefts resulted in someone being charged.

A report published in August last year revealed which London boroughs faced the most car thefts.

Between June 2021 and 2022, Enfield had the highest number (1,862), closely followed by Newham (1,761) and Barnet (1,501).