|Tackling Chiswick's 'Keyless' Car Thefts|
Police launch awareness campaign urging owners to take extra precautions
As police launch an awareness campaign to tackle the incidence of 'keyless' vehicle thefts, local police say the numbers of such thefts have dropped recently in Chiswick.
In the past three months there have been two cars stolen by the keyless method, one from Hartington Road in November and one from Grove Park Gardens in January. Both were Range Rovers - one has since been recovered, but one is still outstanding.
Over a quarter of vehicles are stolen without the owners' keys, police have revealed as they mount an awareness week to urge owners to take extra precautions.
Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter vans, Ford Fiestas, and some BMW and Land Rover models accounted for 70% of all vehicles stolen without their keys in 2014.
Chiswick is one area where cars such as BMWs and Land Rovers have been regularly stolen, often from behind locked gates. One stolen car was found last year at Tilbury Docks, about to be shipped to west Africa.
Thieves use a device which bypasses the vehicle’s electronic information as the owner locks it, or they break into the vehicle and connect a device to the OBD port, downloading the vehicle’s information onto a blank key in a matter of seconds. The new key is then compatible with the vehicle, so it disables the alarm and the vehicle can simply be driven away.
Police say that this crme peaks between 2200hrs and 0400hrs, when it is dark, Sundays to Thursdays. The majority of thefts are by organised gangs using key-programming devices to create duplicate keys for vehicles.The disappearance of a vehicle overnight is bewildering for owners who are convinced they have properly locked their car.
Criminals drive the vehicles into the home counties, where most are stripped down into their component parts and then shipped abroad. They are sold on as far afield as Africa, where particular types of vehicle are in high demand.
24,062 vehicles of all kinds were stolen across London, of which 6,283 were keyless thefts - that is 26% of all vehicle thefts. Forty-two per cent of these were cars and vans.
East London is the borough most affected by keyless vehicle theft. In Hounslow borough the figure was 130 for the year, a better result than Redbridge at 602 but not as good as Kingston at 35.
The vehicles are targeted based on the desirability of their parts and range from prestige cars to vans.
Neighbourhood policing teams in every borough will hold local crime prevention events, targeted patrols and will be leafleting in hot-spot areas, to raise awareness amongst drivers.
Advice includes using a steering wheel lock or gear-stick lock; getting on-board diagnostics lock (OBD) professional fitted; parking in an area with CCTV; double-checking the vehicle is locked;