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'Gone in 60 seconds...'? How about 10!

2014-05-21 08:23

GONE IN 10 SECONDS: No need to hot-wire a vehicle any more. Car thieves are using electronic devices to hack and steal vehicles without causing damage. Image: Shutterstock

  • Thieves use devices to steal cars without keys
  • 10 000 cars electronically compromised
  • Thatcham 5 and 6 devices combat cybercrime

LONDON, England – Thieves are using cyber warfare to hack vehicles and can steal a vehicle in only 10 seconds  without causing any damage, according to UK vehicle security specialist Cobra and Thatcham Research.

Thieves are believed to be hacking vehicle computers using devices bought on the internet that can fool the car into thinking the owner’s smart key is present by using radio transmitters.


Car thieves can also plug directly into the on-board diagnostic unit to access the engine control unit (ECU) and programme a blank key to start the car.

The UK vehicles insurers’ automotive research centre says data from the London's Metropolitan Police reveal that just less than half of all car theft in the British capital in 2013 was carried out "without using forcible entry".

Thatcham’s security research manager Mike Briggs explained: "Vehicle-makers are very focused on addressing this issue and we know that progress has been made over the past two years. For vehicle owners still concerned about their car being compromised we recommend a Thatcham-certified* vehicle tracking system that operates independently of the car’s ECU.

“The Thatcham security testing regime is one of the world's most rigorous and our certification provides the benchmark level for crime prevention. Even if a car is stolen, a Thatcham-certified tracking system will have it found quickly."

Security company Cobra claims its average vehicle recovery time across its CobraTrak and NavTrak products is 37 minutes.


Andrew Smith, MD of Cobra UK, , said: “Car crime is no longer the preserve of the opportunist but a more targeted activity towards prestige brands which are stolen to order.

“We are committed to partnering with Thatcham to ensure our CobraTrak and NavTrak products continue to thwart car thieves as they use ever more sophisticated means to steal cars.”

* Thatcham Research is the UK's motor insurers' automotive research centre with an international reputation as “Experts in Safety, Security and Crash Repair”. According to Thatcham: “Established in 1969, the centre's main aim is to contain or reduce the cost of motor insurance claims whilst maintaining safety standards.”
Read more on:    england  |  london  |  car theft  |  vehicles  |  technology

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