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The electronic key car thief

Everyone knows that modern cars are much more secure. Alarms and immobilisers are widespread standard fits and electronic keys make the ignition and door locks all but impregnable. In the past, it seems the car thief only needed a coat hanger to pull down the car’s window and then pull up the locking peg. Then, almost anything could be inserted into the mechanical ignition and twisted.

Everyone knows that modern cars are much more secure. Alarms and immobilisers are widespread standard fits and electronic keys make the ignition and door locks all but impregnable. In the past, it seems the car thief only needed a coat hanger to pull down the car’s window and then pull up the locking peg. Then, almost anything could be inserted into the mechanical ignition and twisted. The car was started and driven off in a matter of seconds. All of this new electronic gadgetry prevents such villainy and makes our cars all but impregnable. Or does it?

The old saying goes that where there is a will there is a way. There will probably always be a will to steal expensive cars but is there a way? It seems that there is. Just like our cars’ security systems, the thieves are getting more sophisticated. No longer do they simply prowl around at night with a coat hanger and a screwdriver. The modern car thief is altogether more subtle and a great deal more computer literate.

Prosecutors at Reading Crown Court have been telling how police uncovered a sophisticated car stealing scam. The officers noted that for some time an unusually high number of luxury cars were being stolen from the area. More worrying for owners and police alike, there were no telltale signs of car alarms going off or witnesses reporting thieves breaking into the cars. The cars were simply disappearing and were never seen again. The cars were being taken from outside owners’ homes or workplaces and the thefts appeared to be quick and with no obvious signs of forced entries, such as smashed windows or car alarms being activated.

Detectives, however, continued to look for clues and finally found some odd common features in the cars. Almost all were luxury models but a disproportionately high percentage had recently been involved in minor scrapes that required a visit to the garage. Others had recently been to a certain airport valet parking service and lots of the models were hire cars.

This provided the police with the ‘key’ clue: the keys of all of these motors had been handed over to a third party. This was the breakthrough. The police soon realised that unscrupulous individuals at the garage and car park were making clone copies of the electronic keys. They were then placing tracking devices inside the cars to allow them to steal them once sufficient time had passed to cover their tracks. Instead, in this case, simple detective work outsmarted the latest in the thieves armoury of technology. At least for now.

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