This is the moment three masked thieves manage to steal a £60,000 Range Rover in just 40 seconds – while its unsuspecting owners are asleep upstairs.
CCTV footage captures three men using an amplifier or ‘relay device’ to trick the keyless security system of a £60,000 Range Rover Sport into unlocking itself during the early hours of Tuesday morning.
One man is seen holding the device, which can be bought online for around £80, while his accomplices wait further back.
It takes them just 40 seconds to unlock the car and drive away from the property in Harborne, Birmingham.
The brazen thieves managed to steal the vehicle despite the owners having a special gadget called a ‘faraday pouch’ that blocks the signal of the keys inside and prevents relay attacks.
High-tech car thieves working together can steal your keyless car within a few seconds
Police are now investigating the theft but no arrests have been made.
So-called ‘relay’ theft occurs when two thieves work together to break into keyless cars. They use equipment to capture electromagnetic signals emitted by keyfobs.
How to protect your vehicle: Everyday items like a drinks can or your fridge can stop the criminals in their tracks
Every make and model of car that can start ‘keylessly’ is vulnerable to a relay attack.
While this might put drivers on edge, there are easy steps you can take to stop you becoming the next victim of a relay theft.
Certain metals are capable of blocking key signals, which means if you store your fob with one of these metals around it, criminals won’t be able to pick them up and steal your vehicle.
The most simple and most ingenious is a metal can.
The aluminum in a drinks can will stop radio signals being transmitted from your key and stop burglars in their tracks.
Some experts have suggested keeping your keys in the fridge, as the material on the inside will block signals too.
If you’re looking for a low-cost option, some people wrap their fobs in tin foil – although this isn’t endorsed by security firms.
Keeping your keys in a small metal box however can work efficiently.
Special faraday pouches — cheap wallets which shield the key’s radio signal from being transmitted — are also useful for storing your keys when you’re away from home – in motorway service stations and public car parks.
Experts also encourage drivers to keep them at least 5m away from their front door, to give thieves the worst chance of being able to relay a signal.
But some security specialists advise against hiding your car keys too obscurely in your house — because if serious criminals truly want to steal your car, they will break in and do anything to find the keys.
Old-fashioned methods like parking in a well-lit area, using a steering wheel lock and installing a proper tracking device to your vehicle are still highly recommended to keep your car safe.
One person stands by the car with a transmitter, while the other stands by the house with another, which picks up the signal from the electronic key, usually kept near the front door on a table or hook.
This is then relayed to the transmitter by the vehicle, causing it to think the key is in close proximity and prompting it to open.
Thieves can then drive the vehicle away thanks to the keyless ignition and quickly replace locks and entry devices.
The brazen Birmingham crooks managed to outsmart a pouch device that is supposed to block the key’s signal and prevent relay attacks.
One of the victims, a 36-year-old mother-of-two, said: ‘Me and my partner were sleeping and I then got up to feed my baby at about 1am.
‘My husband then heard our car alarm go off at 1.40am so he looked out of the window and to his horror, there was a group of masked men jumping into our Land Rover Sport.
‘He quickly jumped out of bed and alerted me, but by that time, they had driven the car away.
‘It was an extremely horrible and shocking moment, these individuals clearly had no fear in committing a crime.
‘We have had the car since 2014 and were thinking about buying another one but the theft has put that plan on hold for now.
‘What was even more strange was that the keys were kept in a Faraday pouch which is designed to prevent the car key fob signal from being picked up by an external device. This clearly wasn’t effective.’
Footage from the family’s CCTV camera shows three men approaching their house.
One man stands by the front door – seemingly with an amplifier – while his accomplices wait.
The equipment works by capturing signals emitted by certain keys so thieves can then drive the vehicle away and later replace the locks.
The devices can be purchased for as little as £80 each, according to experts.
The homeowner added: ‘It is clear that this type of crime is becoming the norm and accepted by society.
‘People need to know they can’t get away with this sort of stuff.’
One of the masked men is seen holding the relay device by the front door of a home in Harbone, Birmingham early on Tuesday morning
He then sends the signal back to another device, held by one of his accomplices, which then unlocks the 4×4
Within just a few seconds the car has unlocked and he rushes over to so he can drive it away
A West Midlands Police spokesperson, said: ‘We are investigating the theft of a red Range Rover from an address in Knightlow Road in Harborne which is believed to have taken place in the early hours of Tuesday, January 29.’
David Jamieson, the police and crime commissioner for West Midlands Police, said: ‘Thefts involving electronic devices are on the up and it’s clear that manufacturers could do more to make their vehicles secure.’
Almost every model of keyless entry car can be hacked into using relay devices, with attacks becoming more and more common nationwide.
Relay boxes scan for car keys and broadcast their signal to a second unit beside the motor which opens the door and allows it to start – fooling the car’s security system
A recent case saw a Ford Focus stolen in just 30 seconds from a driveway in Hampton, London in the middle of the night.
CCTV footage revealed how three men worked together in the same way as they did in the Birmingham incident to unlock the vehicle.
A police spokesman said: ‘Car stolen from a drive in Hampton. How long did it take?? 30 secs. One of the suspects is holding up an aerial to pick up the signal from the key which was actually 25 ft away in an upstairs bedroom.
‘If you have keyless car entry you need to think about blocking the signal.’
Although relay attacks can be disconcerting for drivers, simple steps can be taken to prevent them happening.
Putting keys in a pouch that blocks the signal and wrapping them in tin foil are among the hacks that can reduce the number of thefts.
As he holds the wire up the man is able help his friend open and get in the car before they drive away