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Keyless car crime: Car thief caught on camera

Keyless car crime : Car thief caught on camera

Car thieves are taking advantage of a security loophole in the electronic signal key system 'Keyless-Go'. Police provide tips on keeping your car safe.

Only a few minutes after the theft of a BMW limousine, one of the culprits was caught on speed camera on the B9. Police are now using the photo to search for the unidentified person. They assume that several people were involved, as the so-called Keyless-Go system was obviously exploited during the theft, something which is not really possible by someone acting alone. At the same time, the police are warning of a security loophole in the Keyless-Go system which makes life easier for car thieves.

The theft occurred on the night of 26 October on the street "Am Schänzchen" in Bonn-Castell. The stolen vehicle, a BMW 640i, was caught on a speed camera at around 4 a.m. on the B9 travelling towards Bad Godesberg at a speed of 60 kmph. The car thief at the wheel can be relatively well made out but has not yet been caught.

Bonn CID is now publishing the speed camera photo because previous investigations have not led to an identification. They are asking anyone with relevant information to call on 0228150.

According to the police, car thieves are repeatedly exploiting a security loophole in the keyless locking systems to quickly steal the car, as was the case here. Using a radio wave extender they can pick up the key’s signals, open the doors and drive away in the usually expensive car. "This can easily be prevented," emphasizes the police. Special key cases, metal boxes and being aware of the dangers are all ways to protect your car against thieves.

With keyless locking systems, the vehicle can be opened without pressing a button; it is sufficient to carry the key with you. As soon as the driver approaches the vehicle, the key is recognised through the signal and the central locking system opens when the door handle is touched. Vehicle keys with the Keyless-Go function continuously send a signal indicating to the vehicle that the key is in the immediate vicinity. The vehicle then tries to pick up this signal in order to open and start as soon as the owner is nearby.

"This is exactly what the thieves take advantage of. A radio wave extension is enough to trick the system," explains Chief Detective Gerald Ohletz, who heads crime prevention at the Bonn police headquarters. The "extender" is positioned by a person close to the car key, for example in front of the house door. A second person stands with another device at the car driver's door and picks up the signal. In this way, the car appears to be close to the key and the perpetrators can drive away without any visible signs of a break-in. And the worst part: once the engine has been running, the vehicle no longer questions the signal from the key and remains in operation as long as there is still fuel in the tank.

So how can you protect yourself? Chief Detective Gerald Ohletz advises: "Even for small amounts of money you can buy cases or metal boxes online and in specialist shops which protect the signal between the key and the vehicle. You should carry out a test yourself to make sure it works. The safest option, however, is still to have the keyless function deactivated by the dealer."

Original text: hbl, Translation: Caroline Payne)