Police warning following national increase in keyless car theft

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Drivers are being warned to take steps to keep their car safe following a rise in criminals using keyless technology. - Credit: PA

Drivers are being warned to take steps to keep their car safe following a rise in criminals using keyless technology.

Norfolk police chiefs are urging car owners to be wary of car thieves using relay technology which allows them to unlock and drive a car. 

Provisional figures from the National Police Chiefs’ Council shows a 3.1pc increase between May and June 2021 in vehicle crime, with the majority of the increase from keyless theft. 

Police say intelligence shows organised crime gangs use the technology to receive the signal from a key inside a house and transfer it to a portable device, allowing them to unlock the car.

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for vehicle crime, assistant chief constable Jenny Sims, said: “Car theft is a serious crime that causes significant distress and upset to owners and police are putting considerable resources into tackling it and bringing those responsible to justice.  

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“Whilst the rapid development of technology has dramatically improved the experience of drivers it has also allowed criminals to exploit weaknesses in electronic security.

"We are working closely with car manufacturers to help them design out crime by sharing intelligence and equipment seized from criminals."

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Drivers are asked to take steps to stop criminals such as storing keys in metal tins or protective pouches - which block the devices criminals are using, keeping keys out of sight and away from windows and doors, and by making sure cars are locked.

Chief superintendent Dave Buckley from Norfolk Constabulary said: “Whilst we have not seen an increase in this type of vehicle theft in Norfolk, we would urge local people to be aware of this warning and take necessary crime prevention measures.”

Leicestershire Police and Cheshire Constabulary recently secured the conviction of people for keyless thefts and key burglaries.

And in Liverpool five people were convicted for a range of offences including the theft of keyless cars. 

The cases combined involved vehicles totalling to around £5m in keyless car thefts and 60 years imprisonment.

The assistant chief constable said: "We are carrying out proactive operations every single week and as recent results show, they can expect to spend a significant amount of time in prison when we catch them.” 

Anyone with any information about the theft of cars should contact police on 101, through the Norfolk Police website or through Crimestoppers.  

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