Cambridge, West Midlands, London and Brighton all reporting cyber car theft crimewaves

Cars in the street

Cambridge has become the latest area to report hackers stealing vehicles as the cyber crimewave gripping the UK shows no sign of slowing down. 

The cyber gang has stolen so many vehicles, Cambridge police has now issued a warning to commuters. 

A Cambridge police spokesman urged car owners of keyless vehicles, especially Fords, to take extra security measures ‘as a matter of urgency’. The spokesman recommended using a steering lock, according to The Cambridge News.

Insurers are frantically trying to keep pace with all the different cars that are vulnerable, as there is now compelling evidence that keyless car thefts - driven largely by cyber criminals - accounts for one in three vehicle thefts. 

Last year more than 6,000 cars and vans were stolen in London alone using cyber techniques – around 17 each day - accounting for 42% of all vehicle thefts.

In the West Midlands there were 3,427 vehicle thefts from April to November last year, of which 1,234 were keyless, just over 35%.

Insurance Times is part of Newsquest Group, the UK’s thrid largest local news distributor with 300 brands, and now there are reports emerging up and down the country on a weekly basis of the cyber car thefts.  

Insurance Times reported last week from sister publication the The Argus that there was a cyber car theft crimewave around Brighton. 15 Range Rovers were stolen in the space of a few short weeks.  

But Cambridge police report that it is Fords rather than Range Rovers that are the targets. Easy targets for cyber criminals are the Ford Fiesta ST Turbo; Ford Kuga Titanium; and keyless Ford Mondeos which have all been swiped in recent weeks around Cambridge. 

One favourite technique used by the Cambridge cyber gangs is thought to  be a device known as a ‘jammer’.

A jammer is used by thieves to block the signal sent from a key fob to vehicles – meaning drivers walk away unaware that their car or van is unlocked, allowing the thief to raid the vehicle.

Other techniques include using devices bought cheaply off the interent that can be plugged into laptops. Other thieves use smartphone hacking equipment as all the latest ideas are shared between cyber criminals on online forums. 

The cyber theft crimewave is so bad that the benefits of modern cars’ anti-collision sensors on claims costs are being outweighed by the risk of theft, leading to drastic action by insurers.

Last year underwrtiers deemed the risk on keyless Range Rovers so severe, insurance quotes were hiked and some insurers refused to insure the vehicles at all around parts of London.