The rise in high-tech cars has also prompted a rise in high-tech car thefts, motoring.co.uk reports.
Few new vehicles are now made with traditional keys, as manufacturers look to more tech-savvy alternatives, such as "electronic keys" which need no contact but simply unlock cars once the driver gets within close range. Whilst this is a much more user-friendly alternative for drivers, it also throws up a new way for thieves to get into vehicles that aren't their own.
Now, UK Police Forces and Government Agencies have claimed that around a quarter of all car thefts are done by cloning the data from these electronic keys.
Whilst thieves used to try and fish for keys that had been left close to the front door, new technology can allow them to intercept data relayed between key and car that "tells" it to unlock. This information can then be installed onto a fake key, which does exactly the same job as the real one. Then, the thieves only have to wait until the owner is out of sight before unlocking the car with ease and speeding away.
These techniques are now thought to represent some 25 per cent of all car thefts, an increase of 40 per cent over the past five years. The real damage, however, is that many insurance companies fail to pay out on thefts involving the owner's keys as it is often seen to be avoidable. This could prompt drivers to consider alternatives, such as vehicle tracking devices, which can let them know exactly where their stolen car has got to.
In recent months, this security issue has been addressed by manufacturers including BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz, who found that not only domestic cars could be in danger but also large fleets of industrial vehicles too, fleetnews.co.uk reports.