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Thieves able to drive-off in most popular models in a matter of seconds

Thieves able to drive-off in most popular models in a matter of seconds
Some of Britain’s newest and most popular cars are at risk of being stolen in a matter of seconds, because thieves are able to exploit weaknesses in their keyless entry and start systems, according to groundbreaking market intelligence from Britain’s leading consumer champion and new car buying platform, What Car?.

An exclusive test by What Car? found the new DS3 Crossback Ultra Prestige could be unlocked and started in 10 seconds by thieves using specialist technology. The Audi TT RS could also be stolen in 10 seconds - although only when its optional keyless entry system was active and its motion sensor technology had not disabled the keyfob. The recently replaced Land Rover Discovery Sport could also be stolen in 30 seconds. 

Car theft rates in England and Wales have reached an eight-year high, with more than 106,000 stolen last year alone. Vehicles fitted with keyless entry and start systems are being targeted by thieves. Criminals using specialist tools can capture a key’s signal and relay it to another device next to the car, allowing them to enter and start the vehicle.

What Car? tested seven different models, all fitted with keyless entry and start technology. Its security experts were able to break into a number of them within a matter of seconds.

Some new models on sale today feature technology that helps prevents keyless theft. Manufacturers, including Audi, BMW, Ford and Mercedes-Benz, have introduced motion detection technology inside their car keys – if the key is left untouched, it stops emitting a signal. However, if the key is in a pocket or handbag, and the owner is walking around, the car can still be vulnerable.

Jaguar Land Rover has taken a different approach, introducing ultra-wide-band radio technology on some of its latest models, which transmits a wide range of signals from the key, meaning thieves can’t lock onto the signal and fool the vehicle.

What Car?’s security experts couldn’t steal any vehicle with their keyfobs deactivated. However, this technology is not yet widely available.

Steve Huntingford, editor of What Car?, said: “It is outrageous that some car makers have introduced keyless entry and start systems without making them anywhere near as secure as the traditional alternatives they’ve replaced.

“It is great news that a small number of brands are taking the problem of car theft seriously, but more needs to be done to improve security, particularly of desirable used models.”

The results of What Car?’s exclusive security test can be found below:

Audi TT RS Roadster

Get into car

Drive Away

Advanced Key inactive 

Not possible

Not possible

Advanced Key active

5 seconds

5 seconds

 

 

 

 

BMW X3 (2018)

Get into car

Drive Away

Digital Smart Key inactive

Not possible

Not possible

Digital Smart Key active

40 seconds

20 seconds

 

 

 

 

DS3 Crossback Ultra Prestige

Get into car

Drive Away

Standard Key 

5 seconds

5 seconds

 

 

 

 

Ford Fiesta

Get into car

Drive Away

Sleeping key fob inactive

Not possible

Not possible

Sleeping key fob active

40 seconds

20 seconds

 

 

 

 

Land Rover Discovery

Get into car

Drive Away

Standard key

20 seconds

Not possible

 

 

 

 

Land Rover Discovery Sport (2018)

Get into car

Drive Away

Standard key

10 seconds

20 seconds

 

 

 

 

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Get into car

Drive Away

Keyless-Go key fob inactive

Not possible

Not possible

Keyless-Go key fob active

30 seconds

20 seconds