Tips And Advice

September New Car Buyers Need To Embrace Industry Security Warnings

The latest Thatcham Research car security ratings that measure the vulnerability of new car keyless entry systems, sees yet more cars rated as ‘Poor’.  Half of the eighteen cars launched and assessed by Thatcham so far this year have been confirmed as defenceless against relay attacks. Further tests carried out by What Car? Magazine found some of the newest and most popular keyless entry cars in the UK could be stolen in as little at ten seconds.

Tracker, the leading stolen vehicle recovery (SVR) expert - and the only SVR provider to work in partnership with the UK’s police forces - calls for new car buyers this September plate change to protect themselves against attackers by paying heed to the findings of Thatcham and What Car?.

Thatcham’s new ratings system confirms a clear vulnerability in keyless security technology, which Tracker has been warning of since thieves first began abusing its flaws more than two years ago. Tracker data reveals that 88% of stolen vehicles fitted with one of its devices and successfully recovered in 2018 were stolen without using the owner’s keys. This is a significant and worrying increase of 22% compared with 2016 (66%).


In 2018, Mercedes-Benz took four of the top 10 spots in the Tracker Most Stolen and Recovered league table, with other prestige brands BMW, Land Rover and Range Rover also dominating. The BMW X5 topped the table and the BMW 3 Series came in third position.  

The good news is that Thatcham has awarded a security rating of ‘Superior’ to the keyless entry systems of new models launched by these manufacturers this year, including the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes B-Class and Land Rover Evoque. This bodes well for future launches from these manufacturers as well as premium brands Porsche, Audi and Jaguar who have all had new models favourably assessed by Thatcham. The What Car? study found manufacturers are working with police to improve security, with Audi and Jaguar Land Rover among those confirming programmes of continual monitoring and improvement.

Clive Wain, Head of Police Liaison at Tracker, comments; “More and more new cars feature keyless entry innovation; however, we’ve witnessed an increase in cars stolen without keys as thieves create ways to get around this latest technology. Savvy criminals are bypassing current keyless security measures by extending the range of the smart signal from such vehicles in search of smart key fobs – otherwise known as a relay attack – by investing in kit that is legally available and easy to buy in the UK. Thieves are literally stealing vehicles within seconds by employing this technique.

“A number of manufacturers are now introducing motion tags, which put key fobs into sleep mode if they’re left sitting for a period of time, which is successfully stopping thieves from activating key fobs from outside owners’ homes or offices with the use of relay attack tools.  However, until this becomes standard practice by all manufacturers, motorists need to take steps to protect themselves.

“Thatcham’s rating system and the What Car? tests help new car buyers know which vehicles are vulnerable, a significant step forward, so we strongly urge buyers to check their dream car with Thatcham and What Car? before they buy. For used car buyers and current car owners, we recommend they invest in an SVR solution, preferably one that is Thatcham-approved.  Whilst this won’t outsmart tech-savvy thieves from stealing a car, it will significantly increase the chances of police successfully locating and recovering it.”

Tracker stolen vehicle recovery systems work like an electronic homing device. A covert transmitter is hidden in one of several dozen places around the vehicle. Tracker’s combination of GPS/GSM and VHF technology makes its tracking solutions superior than others on the market, because they are resistant to GPS/GSM jammers. There is no visible aerial, so the thief won’t even know it’s there. Tracker’s products are Thatcham-approved, so those who fit a Tracker system could also benefit from a possible discount on their insurance premiums.