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Met Police warns of surge in 'car hacking' thefts

Met Police warns of surge in 'car hacking' thefts

As technology has developed in recent years, it is easy to think the car outside your house is safer than ever before. New alarm systems and immobilisers mean it isn't merely a case of smashing a window or breaking a lock and driving away without the owner noticing.

However, the Metropolitan Police has confirmed that almost half of the 21,000 car thefts in London last year were as a result of electronic hacking - a new wave of high-tech automobile crime.

A gadget, which can be purchased online, can trick newer vehicles into believing a smart key is present or can even be plugged directly into the engine control unit (ECU) to create a blank key.

According to the figures released by police in the capital, the average value of a car stolen and recovered last year was £40,000 - indicative of the fact expensive models are being targeted, perhaps because they are more likely to have these ECU systems.

The hacking device is smaller than a mobile phone and can be used by thieves to control aspects of the vehicle including the lights, locks, steering and brake remotely. However, it must first be fitted to the controller area network, requiring the hackers to spend time inside the car.

This is why owners are being warned to be extra vigilant with their keys, as a thief may only need to possess them for a few seconds to gain access to the car and install the device. They will then be able to control the vehicle whenever they like. 

In addition to protecting your home from burglaries in general, home security systems can help to ensure hackers do not access your property to seize a vehicle's keys for a short period. 

Of course, it is also worth considering the installation of a CCTV security system, which will serve to protect homes and vehicles alike.

As well as acting as a deterrent, these systems help to provide the police with crucial evidence if any crimes do take place. 

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