Hundreds of UK's best-selling cars at risk of ‘keyless thefts'

Monday, January 28, 2019

New research claims hundreds of popular cars are susceptible to keyless theft.


Consumer group Which? found four of the five best-selling models in the UK, the Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and Nissan Qashqai, were all at risk. 


A growing number of new cars are made with keyless entry systems, which enable owners to open them with the brush of a hand, as long as the actual key is nearby, for example in the owners pocket.


Thieves are, however, increasingly thought to be using technology to bypass entry systems on keyless cars allowing them to enter the vehichle and drive away. 


The remaining car in the UK’s top five, Vauxhall Corsa, was considered safe from attacks, as it doesn’t feature keyless entry and start. 


Which? Analysed data from the General German Automobile Club (ADAC), a roadside recovery organisation, which tested 237 keyless cars and found that all by three of them are susceptible to so-called “relay attacks”.


The three cars found to be secure are all made by Jaguar Land Rover; the latest models of the Discovery and Range Rover and the 2018 Jaguar i-Pace. 


Relay attacks – where criminals use a device to trick a car into thinking a key is within the appropriate range to open and start the vehicle. 


In a statement, Which? said, “Thieves have been using keyless theft – also known as the relay attack – for several years, but manufacturers continue to make new models that can be stolen in this way, meaning there is an ever-larger pool of vehicles for thieves to target.”


Industry body, the Society of Motor Manufacturer and Traders (SMMT) maintain, “new cars are more secure than ever”.


Speaking to the BBC, head of the SMMT, Mike Hawes, said, “Industry takes vehicle crime extremely seriously and any claims otherwise are categorically untrue…the latest technology has helped bring down theft dramatically with, on average, less than 0.3% of the cars on our roads stolen.


“Criminals will always look for new ways to steal cars; it’s an ongoing battle and why manufacturers continue to invest billions in ever more sophisticated security features - ahead of any regulation.”


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