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TRACKER Warns Of Rise Of The ‘Relay’ Car Theft Technique

Date: 10 August 2017

Today’s car criminals are far more likely to be computer savvy than have the ability to hot-wire a car warns TRACKER (part of the Tantalum Corporation). Recent reports indicate an increasing new trend in vehicle theft termed ‘relay attack’, that allows criminals to harness more sophisticated theft techniques to overcome existing vehicle security technology, such as immobilisers and keyless entry systems.
 
This new style attack uses a relay device and involves two criminals working together. One stands near the car being targeted and the other stands near the front door of the owner’s home to get in range of the key fob – often left on hallway tables or kitchen worktops. The device then picks up the key fob signal from inside the house and relays it to the car. Using this method, thieves are then able to drive away in a stolen vehicle in a matter of just a few seconds.
 
“At TRACKER, we are seeing more thefts recorded as ‘stolen without the keys' which suggests   that electronic manipulation and cyber compromise are on the increase,” explains Andy Barrs, Head of Police Liaison at TRACKER. “The new relay attack technique has gained significant ground in the US and Germany, but it’s also beginning to take hold in the UK, so vehicle owners need to protect themselves and their assets.”
 
According to German research, which tested vehicles from 30 manufacturers, the brands to particularly be on watch out for are BMW and Peugeot.  However, Using a relay device, testers managed to unlock many vehicles and start the engine, with the BMW 7 Series, Ford Focus, Toyota Prius and VW Golf among the most affected models of vehicle.
 
Andy Barrs adds, “As relay attacks become even more prevalent, owners need to protect themselves, particularly since criminal gangs are routinely using relay devices to exploit weaknesses in keyless security systems across of broad range of manufacturers. These tools are readily available on the internet for as little as £80 and thefts typically occur in residential areas, where cars are parked relatively close to the house, especially at night.
 
It’s worth remembering that technology is just one part of vehicle security and more vigilance needs to be taken across the board; this includes car owners, manufacturers, dealers, insurers and the police. We also urge motorists to remember that whilst a tracking device won’t stop a car being stolen, it can significantly increase the chances of the police locating and returning it to its rightful owner.”
 
Unlike other stolen vehicle recovery devices, TRACKER’s unique technology can locate vehicles anywhere, even when they are hidden in a garage or shipping container. TRACKER has been reuniting car lovers with their vehicles for nearly 25 years, and it’s this expertise which makes TRACKER the leader in stolen vehicle recovery.
 
* Adrow analysis of TRACKER control room data, 2017

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