CCTV footage captured a £40,000 Mercedes-Benz being stolen from a driveway in 23 seconds in Essex.
The luxury motor parked outside the owner’s house in Billericay was pinched in a matter of moments by a pair of nonchalant crooks using two discreet handheld devices.
It is yet another example of a keyless entry relay car Theft, a type of car theft that is becoming increasingly popular in the UK.
Crimes adopting this technique involve no forced entry, picked locks or smashed windows.
Car thieves merely use a pair of radio transmitters to intercept the signal from the car key to ‘trick’ the car to thinking it is present, allowing access to the car and for the engine to be started.
One criminal usually stands by the car and the other by the front of the property to connect a link between the key’s signal and the car itself.
The owner, Danny Talbot was furious after reviewing the footage of the incident which happened on May 17th.
He and the rest of his family were in the house at the time but were completely unaware that the car had been stolen until he saw the empty driveway the following morning.
Mr Talbot said to the Daily Mail: “I can’t believe that technology is available allowing thieves to make off with my property so easily.”
Incidents of this kind are growing in the UK rising by 9,000 to 43,308 in 2017 from 2016, according to figures reporting stolen vehicles to the DVLA.
However, surveys from the Office for National Statistics suggest that the number is closer to 89,000 for offences last year.
Certain areas of the country are also being more heavily targeted than others with crimes of this nature in the West Midlands increasing by 80 per cent.
Cars can be stolen without forced entry in seconds
According to the Association of British Insurers, a record £271 million in theft claims in the first nine months of this year by insurers.
Keyless entry theft was cited as the ‘main driver’ in the huge rise in offences.
There have been calls to make it illegal to sell or own a relay box. Police officers can only arrest someone if they were it catch a thief red-handed using a device or be able to prove an intent to use it for theft.
It has been suggested that there is no reasonable reason to own a relay device as they would not be able to help you get back into the car if you lost the key.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “They can only be used for one thing — breaking into a car which you don’t own.”
These devices are also becoming easier to buy with them being sold online on Amazon and eBay as well as from locksmiths.
A spokesman for Mercedes-Benz said: “All Mercedes-Benz vehicles have extensive security and anti-theft protection systems, which are continuously developed, taking account of the latest knowledge about criminal methods and attacks on security systems.
“Customers have the option of deactivating the Keyless Go entry system with two clicks of the button on the key.”
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Richard Billyeald, chief technical officer at Thatcham Research, experts in vehicle safety and security, said: “Keyless entry systems on cars offer convenience to drivers, but can in some situations be exploited by criminals.
“Concerned drivers should contact their dealer for information and guidance, and follow our simple security steps.
“We are working closely with the police and vehicle manufacturers to address this vulnerability, continuing our approach that has driven vehicle crime down 80pc from its peak in 1992.”