The convenience of a keyless entry system comes with a whopping downside - a shortcut for car thieves. No longer do they need to break into your home to steal the fob or do anything as old fashioned as jimmying the door and hotwiring. It’s possible to simply boost the fob’s signal, making the vehicle think the key is right next to it. Hey presto, the crook can get in and drive away.
The devices used for the job make it easy and fast to make off with someone else’s car, often taking mere seconds to do their thing. One gadget recovered by West Yorkshire Police from three thieves was disguised as a Nintendo Game Boy.
Said to be worth around £20,000 and specifically made for use with the Mitsubishi Outlander, the device was found in the hidden compartment of a Ford Galaxy used by the gang when they were arrested on 20 July. The trio was tracked down shortly after stealing an Outlander from a house in Scholes, Leeds, as shown in the video below.
In their haste to leave, the Mitsubishi hit a drainpipe and a Nissan Juke parked on the same driveway. One of the men even left a video of one of their thefts on his phone, which the cops were no doubt delighted to later discover.
An investigation linked Dylan Armer, Thomas Poulson, and Christopher Bowes to the theft of five Outlanders. They were charged with ‘conspiracy to steal motor vehicles’ and sentenced earlier this week. Armer was sentenced to 30 months in prison “with a concurrent 18-month term for separate burglary matters,” while Poulson and Bowes were handed 22-month sentences suspended for two years.
Around May - June this year, there was a huge surge in thefts targetting Outlanders, mostly near Leeds and Wakefield. Around 30 such vehicles were reported stolen in that time.
Commenting on the risk of keyless theft, Detective Inspector Vicky Vessey from the Leeds District Crime Team said:
“Unfortunately, criminals are constantly looking for opportunities to exploit technology to their advantage, and we would advise the owners of any vehicles with keyless entry and ignition, not just Mitsubishi Outlanders, to take additional security precautions such steering locks, driveways posts or wheel clamps, and to consider fitting a tracking device to assist us in tracing and recovering the vehicle should the worst should happen.”