Vehicle theft is increasing

Thieves are now using modern electronic technology to bypass manufacturers security systems and steal vehicles.

After a 20 year decline, Government statistics for the year to June 2015 showed a 3% increase in police-recorded thefts of vehicles in England and Wales. For the year to June 2016 there was an even greater 8% increase.

However, this is not just limited to the UK; in France as an example it was recently estimated that 74% of vehicles are stolen electronically.

Keyless Theft

This form of crime is often referred to as ‘keyless theft’ or ‘electronic compromise’; whereby thieves do not need the keys to steal the vehicle. Most vehicles taken without keys are stolen using equipment which plugs into the On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) port. This intelligent equipment ‘hacks’ the system and is able to bypass the vehicles integrated security protocols in order to program a new key.

There are generally two types of this theft carried out:

Delayed theft of the vehicle

A recent survey suggested 4 out of 10 people don’t think twice about handing over their car keys to a stranger at a car wash, valet or airport parking, a hotel or restaurant and on many other occasions. Organised criminal gangs have exploited this and are placing people into these job roles to get access to your vehicle. It can take them less than 10 seconds to program a key using their own equipment.

Personal details such as your address are copied from paperwork and often if this information is not available, tracking devices can be placed in the vehicle or you might be followed until they get the information they need. Once they have a key and a location, it takes just seconds to steal the vehicle at a time of their choosing. There is also little suspicion with type of theft as it is just someone walking up to a vehicle, with a key, getting in and driving away.

Immediate theft of the vehicle

This type of theft is slightly higher risk for the thief, but made easy with the equipment they use. Most of this equipment is pre-programmed so that when it plugs into a vehicle, the alarm is turned off during the ‘hacking’ process. It is then used to program a new key or trick the vehicle into thinking the key is already present. In many instances this complete process, including gaining entry can take less than 20 seconds before the thief can drive the vehicle away.

The equipment to carry out this type of theft is not illegal to buy, own or sell and widely available across the internet. Many of the websites selling this will include tutorials and videos showing the effectiveness of their systems. A recent internet search on a well-known trading site showed a worrying 13,000 suppliers of equipment that could be used to steal a vehicle.

Tracking or theft recovery devices have their limitations and whilst benefiting the recovering of a vehicle after it has been stolen, most do little if anything to prevent the initial theft. Stolen vehicle data was recently analysed for the first 8 months of 2016 on three of the major vehicle manufacturers. It was found that the average recovery rate after a vehicle has been stolen, is just 28.75%, giving a 3 in 10 chance of getting the vehicle recovered after theft. Most people do not realise, that even if the vehicle is found after being stolen, there is still costs involved for recovery, storage and or repair. These costs will likely affect future insurance premiums.

Today’s car owners demand convenience from technology. Vehicle manufacturers are at the forefront of introducing features designed to make owners lives easier. Ironically, most owners are having to rely on outdated, cumbersome, bulky aftermarket security solutions like steering locks to protect a vehicle. These are impractical and inconvenience the owner, as they need to be fitted or removed every time you enter or leave a vehicle and also be safely stored when not in use, so that they do not become a potential hazard should the vehicle be involved in a collision or crash. Furthermore, these do nothing to prevent additional keys being programmed or someone accessing any personal information that may be stored in the vehicle.

To protect against the modern day thief, you must consider a form of OBD port security, and the ultimate in obd port protection is the award winning PORTECTOR.