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Watchdog' Programme To Reveal Car Thieves' Trade Secrets

By raccars Published

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The BBC is about to broadcast a controversial episode of its consumer protection programme 'Watchdog', in which it explains exactly how to steal premium model cars. Car manufacturers are furious that the high level of theft of luxury cars is presented as a security flaw on their part, claiming instead that the problem is a lawmaking issue.

Luxury vehicles, such as Audis, BMWs and Range Rovers, are becoming the most popular targets of high tech car thieves, who use electronic scanning devices to circumnavigate the cars' computerised security systems. The devices can easily be bought online and allow thieves to gain entry to cars in less than 60 seconds, without causing any physical damage.

Car manufacturers claim the easy availability of these devices is at the heart of the issue and that they should be banned from sale. Another point of criticism was that the programme shows people how to steal cars, while the EU also came under fire for allowing criminals access to essential coding data, which carmakers are obliged by law to publish.

Over 1,000 cars have been stolen via electronic theft in London in the past year alone. Owners of certain luxury vehicles, such as Range Rovers, are now struggling to get their cars insured unless they have access to secure parking. This week's episode of 'Watchdog' demonstrates how programming the key for a BMW X6 can be completed within 12 minutes, in just 40 seconds for an Audi A5, and just 10 seconds for a Range Rover Evoque.

'Watchdog' first reported the issue two years ago and, since then, the level of high tech theft has increased. At the time, September 2012, BMW claimed that none of its cars built since September 2011 could be stolen this way and that it would contact owners of its X5 and X6 models built before then to remedy the problem. Unfortunately, some of these owners have now had their cars stolen and claim never to have been contacted by BMW.

The German manufacturer has been criticised again in this week's episode, for its weak response to the original exposure of the issue. The programme also questions the veracity of BMW's claim that post-September 2011 models are not susceptible to electronic theft. One particular witness in the programme is Lord Valentine Cecil, whose 2013 model BMW X5 was stolen. When recovered, police found a freshly programmed key used to gain access in the footwell.

BMW and other brands claim that it is impossible to prevent car theft 100%, as criminals constantly innovate to overcome new security techniques.

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