- Victim was awoken from his sleep by the sounds of his brand new car’s engine
- He ran to the window before dashing downstairs but his motor was already gone
- Incident is one of four understood to have taken place in North London recently
This is the shocking moment two thieves steal a £50,000 BMW in under a minute by bypassing its security system with a special device.
The incident is one of four recent thefts in North London where criminals have used gadgets available on the dark web to quickly make off with high-end motors.
Thieves are able to unlock the keyless cars by transmitting an amplified signal that fools the security system into opening the doors.
The victim, a businessman and father who wished not to be named, had the car for little over a month before it was snatched.
He told MailOnline: ‘I was in my bedroom sleeping at the time. We had just bought the brand new car at the beginning of September.
The two men were captured on CCTV approaching the front of one victim’s house, with their faces clearly visible
The man wearing black gloves then reaches below the driver’s side door and immediately manages to get inside the car
The second man begins waving what is thought to be a black-coloured signal amplifier around the front of the victim’s house
‘Then I heard the engine. I knew someone had started my car and I went to the window.
‘I dashed down straight away and it was gone.’
Within a minute, the two thieves had come and gone — and they had taken the devastated man’s car with them.
The victim said one of his neighbours also fell victim when thieves made off with his BMW – a similar model to his own.
The neighbour said: ‘I was gutted. It’s very hard to get a car like that in my line of work. For me, it was a dream.’
In all, at least four similar thefts are understood to have taken place in the Southgate and North London area.
The man continues waving the device around the front of the victim’s house as his partner in crime waits inside the BMW
HOW DOES THE TECHNIQUE WORK?
Criminals stand near houses with a device that picks up the signal of the car key and relays it to an accomplice standing near the car with another transmitter, which unlocks and starts the vehicle.
Drivers have been advised to take precautions such as turning off the fob’s radio signal – achieved on Mercedes cars by clicking it twice – or storing it in a metal-lined container.
He added: ‘I work hark hard, I have got a family and I want the nicer things in life and then you get these a*******s taking your property.’
Experts say the suspects are likely to have exploited weaknesses in the vehicle’s keyless security system.
The feature allows the car to be opened without pushing a button and the engine started simply by pressing a button.
Using gadgets which can be freely purchased online, the thieves amplify signals between new-generation keyfobs.
The technique tricks the vehicle into thinking its owner is nearby and then the doors unlock.
In less than a minute, the thieves managed to get inside the man’s car and drive away with the £50k motor — all without being in possession of the key fob
Steve Launchbury, head of research at vehicle security experts Thathcam Research, said more instances of ‘relay attacks’ were surfacing as technology became more developed.
Devices to increase keyfob signals were sourced on the dark web and were selling for thousands of pounds.
But Mr Launchbury said Thatchem was able to build the devices for less.
Detective Sergeant Pete Ellis told the Evening Standard: ‘This technology used to be confined to more high-end vehicles but it is becoming more widespread and therefore there is a potential for “relay attacks” to become more common.’
Last year, German Automotive Club experts tested 24 different cars of models made between 2013 and 2015 from 19 manufacturers including BMW, VW, Toyota and Ford.
They said they were able to open every car within seconds using a device that could be built out of every-day electronic items.
According to one of the group’s technicians, thieves are able to extend the transmission-range of the key from two to three metres to ‘a few hundred metres’.
THE KEYLESS CARS TESTED BY THE GERMAN AUTOMOTIVE CLUB
Manufacturer Year of model
Audi A3 10/2015
Audi A4 9/2015
Audi A6 9/2014
BMW 730d 8/2015
Citroen DS4 CrossBack 11/2015
Ford Galaxy 5/2014
Ford Eco-Sport 10/2015
Honda HR-V 6/2015
Hyundai Santa Fee 8/2015
KIA Optima 11/2015
Lexus RX 450h 12/2015
RangeRover Evoque 9/2015
Renault Traffic 11/2015
Mazda CX-5 3/2015
MINI Clubman 8/2015
Mitsubishi Outlander 12/2013
Nissan Qashqai+2 11/2013
Nissan Leaf 05/2012
Opel Ampera 03/2012
SsangYong Tivoli XDi 09/2015
Subaru Levorg 8/2015
Toyota RAV4 12/2015
VW Golf 7 GTD 10/2013 Max. Ja Ja
VW Touran 5T 12/2015
In May, The Mail on Sunday revealed that a gadget that allows thieves to break into cars with electronic locks in minutes was being openly sold on Amazon and eBay.
Priced at £257, the device lets criminals intercept the radio signal from the key as a car owner unlocks the vehicle. It is downloaded to a laptop and the thieves then transmit the stolen signal to break in when the owner leaves it unattended.
Called ‘HackRF One’, the radio device works from up to 30ft away, allowing the crook to remain hidden. YouTube videos demonstrating how to use the gadget to break into a car have been watched tens of thousands of times online.
After watching the videos, The Mail on Sunday was able to use the HackRF One to break into a top-of-the-range £105,000 Range Rover Vogue SE in two minutes – with the permission of the vehicle’s owner.
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