04 Feb 2020

Three ways to reduce the risk of car theft

  • Park your car in a well-lit area
  • Keep car keys well away from external doors or windows
  • Turn off the signal overnight or keep the keys in a signal-block pouch.

The cost of claims has also risen, with the ABI saying that in total insurers paid out £108m in the first three months of this year – up by over a fifth on the same period last year.

It said this was partly due to the higher costs of repairing technically advanced car designs.

Despite the rise in insurance payouts, the ABI said the average price for motor insurance was at its lowest level for two years at £466.

It said this reflected reforms to whiplash insurance payouts aimed at stamping out bogus claims. The legislation only comes into force next April, but the ABI said insurers had already started to reduce premiums in anticipation of lower payouts.

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04 Feb 2020

Car theft payouts ‘at seven-year high’

Motor theft insurance claim payouts hit their highest level in seven years at the start of the year, according to the insurance industry trade body.

The Association of British Insurers said claims for January to March were higher than for any quarter since 2012.

It said a rise in keyless car crime was partly to blame, but did not have figures on what proportion of claims were for keyless vehicles.

Researchers have previously said some new car models are vulnerable.

Keyless car entry systems let drivers open and start their cars without taking their key out of their pocket.

Recent testing by Thatcham Research – which reviews cars’ security systems – said six of the 11 vehicles launched this year had a poor security rating, including the Ford Mondeo, Hyundai Nexo, Kia ProCeed, Lexus UX, Porsche Macan and the Toyota Corolla Hybrid.

Home Office figures show that car theft has risen by 50% over the past five years.

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04 Feb 2020

Hundreds of popular cars ‘at risk of keyless theft’

Hundreds of popular cars – including four of the five best-selling models in the UK – are susceptible to “keyless theft”, new research claims.

Consumer group Which? found the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Golf, Nissan Qashqai and Ford Focus were all at risk.

Thieves are increasingly thought to be using technology to bypass entry systems on keyless cars.

But industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) said “new cars are more secure than ever”.

Which? analysed data on keyless – or “relay” – attacks from the General German Automobile Club (ADAC), a roadside recovery organisation.

ADAC tested 237 keyless cars and found that all but three were susceptible.

The latest models of the Discovery and Range Rover, and the 2018 Jaguar i-Pace, all made by Jaguar Land Rover, were found to be secure.

Of the top-selling cars in the UK, only the Vauxhall Corsa was deemed safe because it is not available with keyless entry and ignition.

“Thieves have been using keyless theft for several years, but manufacturers continue to make new models that can be stolen in this way, meaning there is an ever-larger pool of vehicles for thieves to target,” Which? said in a statement.

Harry Rose, editor of Which? Magazine, said manufacturers needed “to up their game”.

A growing number of new cars are made with keyless entry systems, allowing owners to open them with the brush of a hand, as long as their actual key is nearby – for instance in their pocket.

However, thieves can fool these systems with special devices, allowing them to enter the vehicle and drive away.

Car theft is much lower than it was in the 1990s but has been rising, with keyless technology thought to be partly to blame.

In the year to March 2018, more than 106,000 offences of theft of or unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle were reported to police in England and Wales – the highest annual total since 2009.

Mike Hawes, head of the SMMT, said: “Industry takes vehicle crime extremely seriously and any claims otherwise are categorically untrue.

“New cars are more secure than ever, and the latest technology has helped bring down theft dramatically with, on average, less than 0.3% of the cars on our roads stolen.

“Criminals will always look for new ways to steal cars; it’s an ongoing battle and why manufacturers continue to invest billions in ever more sophisticated security features – ahead of any regulation.

“However, technology can only do so much and we continue to call for action to stop the open sale of equipment with no legal purpose that helps criminals steal cars.”

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04 Feb 2020

How keyless theft works

Thieves, normally working in pairs, will target a car parked outside a house.

One criminal will hold a device close to the car that boosts the signal meant for the key, while the other thief will stand close to the house with another device that relays that signal to the key, fooling the system.

Once the cars have been broken into, they will be stripped for parts, police say.

Car manufacturers have begun introducing new technologies to prevent keyless theft, such as motion detection technology.

What Car? was unable to break into cars that had motion detection installed as a safety measure, however the technology is not available across the car market.

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04 Feb 2020

A car theft that nearly destroyed a holiday

Stephen Savigar, 59, from Newport, South Wales, was on his way to Heathrow Airport with his wife and two friends when they became victims of keyless car theft.

The couples were flying to Singapore for a cruise to celebrate his wife and her friend’s 60th birthdays.

The thieves struck when they stopped for a toilet break at Reading services. Mr Savigar’s Ford Mondeo was not stolen, but what was taken from the car almost ended their holiday on the spot.

“While we were inside thieves jammed my car’s locking system,” he said. “They stole my travel bag which had mine and my wife’s passports inside, as well as our glasses and an iPad.

“It meant we were unable to fly. But we still dropped our friends to the airport and waved them off at the desk. My wife ended up passing out at the desk as we were in a terrible state.”

The couple drove home, went to the passport office, travelled back to Heathrow the next day, and paid for another flight with a different airline. They made it to Singapore just in time to catch the cruise.

Five months later Mr Savigar said he still felt upset talking about it. “It was an absolutely horrific experience. We had been planning this trip for two years. It’s a horrendous crime.”

‘People are being misled’

Andrew from North London had his keyless Mercedes c220 stolen from outside his home in November last year. “The vehicle had keyless entry and my keys were not even near the front door,” he told the BBC.

The vehicle is still missing and Andrew said Mercedes has not been able to explain how this happened.

He said: “I was given the line by Mercedes that if I double tap my key when locking the vehicle it will be safe as the key does not transmit. For me that was standard practice, I had known about this function, the key was on the third floor at the back of my house.

“I believe people are being misled when manufacturers say vehicles are even more safe. According to my insurance there had been more than 10 cars stolen with keyless entry in my postcode in London alone , in that month.”

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04 Feb 2020

New cars ‘can be broken into in 10 seconds’

Some of the UK’s newest and most popular cars are at risk of being stolen in seconds by exploiting weaknesses in keyless entry systems.

The systems let drivers open and start their cars without taking their key out of their pocket.

What Car? magazine tested seven different car models fitted with keyless entry and start systems.

A DS 3 Crossback and Audi TT RS were taken in 10 seconds, and a Land Rover Discovery Sport TD4 180 HSE in 30.

What Car? security experts performed the tests using the same specialist technology operated by thieves.

They measured the time it took to get into the cars and drive them away.

Car theft rates in England and Wales have reached an eight-year high. In 2018, more than 106,000 vehicles were stolen.

And motor theft insurance claim payouts hit their highest level in seven years at the start of 2019.

The Association of British Insurers said claims for January to March were higher than for any quarter since 2012.

It said a rise in keyless car crime was partly to blame, but did not have figures on what proportion of claims were for keyless vehicles.

Audi’s parent company, the VW Group, said it collaborated with police and insurers as part of its “continual” work to improve security measures.

The PSA Group – the parent company of DS – told What Car? it had a team dedicated to treating potential security weaknesses and worked closely with police to “analyse theft methods”.

It also said dealers could deactivate the keyless entry systems on the latest cars at the owner’s request.

Jaguar Land Rover said: “The Discovery Sport model tested is no longer in production. The current Discovery Sport produced today features technology which prevents relay attack.

“In addition, all our vehicles are available with InControl tracking devices which have delivered a more than 80% success of recovery.”

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