BMW and Mercedes owners warned of car theft as police issue appeal – ‘turn off keyless’

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Owners of BMW and Mercedes vehicles have been issued with a warning by Surrey Police about an increase in keyless car thefts in the area. Over 60 thefts have been recorded in Surrey so far this year, and the problem could get even worse if motorists do not act.

There are a number of precautions that the car owners can take, Surrey Police said.

The main issue with BMW and Mercedes cars is that they have a keyless entry system.

Car thieves are often able to intercept the signal from the key fob belonging to the driver and enter the car.

They can do so by tricking the car into thinking that the key is close enough.

And, with 62 cars stolen this way in Surrey this year, police officers have urged motorists to keep their key fobs in a special signal blocking bag.

They added that 31 Mercedes cars were stolen from the beginning of 2022 up to May 20.

The figure stands at 28 for BMWs during the same period.

Borough commander Gemma Taylor, speaking to Surrey Heath Borough Council’s external partnerships select committee, said: “They use a transmitter, it pings the car’s locking system, sends a signal to a second transmitter which is with someone located near to the house i.e. near to where the keys are, and the signal gets relayed back to the car, the car opens and the car starts.

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“The best thing you can do is turn off your keyless entry system in your car, but who wants to spend thousands of pounds on a car that you then have to turn off one of the best functions probably.”

She advised investing in a faraday bag, a metal-lined pouch that blocks signal transmission and can be bought online for under £10.

She said: “And make sure it’s working.

“We have had some thefts where keys have been in faraday bags but they’ve not been properly in the bags or the bags are old and have deteriorated.”

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Despite the problem being prominent in Surrey, drivers across the UK have now been warned.

Inspector Taylor said that the issue is spread nationally.

She added: “They’re using the M25, sticking to arterial routes off of the M25 and those main roads. They’re not using the same days of the week, they’re not hitting exactly the same areas every time, they’re not using the same vehicles.”

Some motoring experts have claimed that while keyless car thefts sound almost impossible to stop, they can be prevented.

Experts at Heycar said: “Putting the keys somewhere safe within your house should be your number one priority.

“Firstly, keep the key away from doors and windows. Thieves usually have to try and ‘grab’ the signal from outside, so the further away the keys are from the exterior walls, the better.

“Some metal boxes (like those that biscuits or tea bags come in) can work — plus, then you get biscuits, too. Signal-blocking pouches often called faraday bags, are metal-lined wallets.

“You can buy them online and from motor retailers with prices starting at about £5. To check that it works, put the key in the bag when you’re standing beside the locked car.”

They continued: “The doors should stay locked. You should also put the spare key that lives in the house in a similar bag.

“Anything else you can do to make the car harder to steal will be a deterrent.

“Putting the car in a garage, getting a lockable post on your driveway and in-car security devices such as steering wheel locks can also help.

“If you have a high-value car, consider getting a tracking device fitted as well.”

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