BMW Theft Gang Targets Chiswick
One case involved stealing a car locked behind electric gates
Police in Chiswick believe the area is being targeted by a gang of criminals stealing BMW cars and have warned the public to be extra vigilant.
The thieves are believed to have come into the area from outside the borough and have managed to override security features on expensive models, stealing cars from outside residents' homes at night.
One local resident, Lord Bradford has described how his wife's BMW X5 vehicle was taken from outside his home last Sunday, despite being parked and locked on their driveway inside electronic gates. Three BMW cars were stolen in Chiswick on the same night.
He has been dissatisfied with the reaction from BMW on the issue and believes that Trading Standards should investigate the behaviour of BMW UK over the security problems with their cars.
"The situation is a disgrace, BMWs are being stolen all over West London and BMW, who have known about the problem for a long time, have not and continue not to do anything about it. I gather that in Richmond borough, 62% of all the stolen cars are BMWs," he commented.
A police spokesperson in Chiswick said they were considering extra patrols at night to deal with the situation. "The borough is being hammered by these thefts, it's not just happening in Chiswick. We are making it a priority to find these thieves. People need to know this is happening and be extra vigilant."
Asked what advice the police had for car owners, as the thieves appear to be circumventing car security features, the spokesperson said fitting a tracking device was advisable in expensive cars.
The spokesperson said the borough of Hounslow was experiencing an increase in the numbers of BMW cars stolen in this manner. The reports of cars stolen in Chiswick come from a number of locations. Most of the vehicles have been taken overnight from outside their owner's homes.
The police believe that the thieves focus on an area for a period of time, and then leave to target a different area.
Last September, a BBC Watchdog programme reported that a device exists which allows anyone to access the on-board computer and programme a blank key. It's easy to use and the process takes little more than three minutes. The blank keys and the device are both available to buy on the internet and work on many models of BMW.
The device was originally designed and marketed for garages and recovery agents so they could use it over and over again on different vehicles.
Police in Warwickshire were so concerned they released a press release last April, warning BMW owners to take extra precautions because of the high number of cars being stolen. Last August the Metropolitan Police left leaflets under windscreens, warning BMW owners their cars were likely to be targeted.
The theft of property from vehicles also remains at high levels in Chiswick, particularly in the Homefields ward area. Police say the public continue to leave valuable items in cars, including satellite nativation kits and laptops. They are also investigating whether a proportion of these thefts occur in vehicles parked by owners who do not live in the area, such as commuters.
January 11, 2013