Thieves target sports inspired family car twice, but Tracker and the Police come to the rescue
It took just 15 seconds to steal a Merseyside family’s nifty Ford Focus ST from their home driveway at 10pm on a Saturday night. Undeterred by the CCTV camera, brazen thieves smeared one of the lenses to try to obscure the view, while using sophisticated equipment to hijack the vehicle’s keyless technology. Thanks to unique stolen vehicle recovery (SVR) technology from Tracker, the prized Ford with sports technologies was quickly recovered undamaged by the police and returned to its owner.
Commonly known as a “relay attack”, the car’s system was remotely fooled into unlocking the doors and starting the engine, enabling the gang to simply jump into the car and reverse off the driveway. Although the family was at home at the time of the theft, it wasn’t until the following morning they realised the car was gone. Fortunately, the vehicle was fitted with a Tracker device, hence once notified, Tracker and the police were able to take immediate action. Despite quickly locating the vehicle, the three thieves were nowhere to be seen.
A couple of weeks later, the same car was stolen again by a different group of thieves, this time when it was being used by a family member out making errands. However, once Tracker was alerted for the second time, the police were able to locate the vehicle and again were able to return it undamaged.
Martin Loftus, the owner of the Ford Focus ST, commented: “We were really unlucky to have the vehicle stolen twice in very different and unrelated circumstances and within a relatively short time frame. The first time round we didn't hear a thing. It wasn't until the morning that we realised the vehicle was gone, and even then, we simply thought the car had been moved by one of the family; after much confusion, and a friendly family row, we realised it had been stolen. After the car was stolen the first time, we invested in a Faraday pouch to keep the key fob in at home, to prevent its signals from being intercepted again. However, opportunistic thieves were quick to exploit the key’s technology when we were out and about, and hence the car was stolen again.
“We are very grateful for having a Tracker fitted, which meant our car was found and returned. Tracker has more than proven its worth, so we're getting Tracker devices fitted to our other family cars for extra peace of mind."
Clive Wain, Head of Police Liaison for Tracker, commented: “Not that long ago, thieves would typically break into homes to steal keys to retrieve cars. But as these thefts clearly show, technology - despite being extremely sophisticated - enables thieves to take cars within seconds using kit they can buy easily from the internet. Watching the CCTV footage from the first theft, before the camera lens was smeared, you can clearly see one thief waving a laptop bag by the front door, while two others leap into the vehicle once the key fob in the home had been triggered.”
Relay attack theft has risen to an all-time high. Recent analysis of how criminals stole cars in 2020 found 93% of all recovered vehicles had been stolen without the thief having possession of the keys. This has nudged up from 92% in 2019 but represents a 27% increase over the last 5 years.
Clive Wain continued: “The good news is there are simple precautions people can take. Whilst the relay devices can receive signals through walls, doors and windows, metal is its enemy, so putting keys in a metal tin or the microwave is a cost-effective way to outsmart the criminals. Alternatively, like Martin did, invest in a metallised signal blocking pouch, such as a Faraday wallet. These are designed to shield electronic keys from relay attacks, but as the second theft clearly shows, it’s important these shielding devices are used.”
“We also encourage drivers to use traditional visual deterrents such as crook locks and wheel clamps to frighten off criminals and protect their car. However, in the event of a theft, stolen vehicle tracking technology will significantly help police quickly close the net on thieves and return the vehicle to its rightful owner.”
Tracker is the only SVR provider offering vehicle tracking systems that are supported nationwide by UK police forces. Tracker SVR solutions work like an electronic homing device. A covert transmitter is hidden in one of several dozen places around the vehicle. There is no visible aerial, so the thief won’t know it’s there. The combination of VHF with GPS/GSM technology, unique to Tracker, makes its units resistant to GPS/GSM jamming, confirming Tracker as a superior security defence against determined thieves.