A new initiative by police to reduce the number of keyless car thefts has been launched in London.
Operation Endeavour began on Tuesday (February 3) following an 8% rise in vehicle thefts in the capital last year. Police believe the increase is the result of criminal organisations targeting keyless or remotely controlled vehicles.
The Metropolitan Police has also published statistics for the number of keyless vehicle thefts in each borough last year.
A keyless car theft is when the vehicle is stolen without keys. This includes hot-wiring and towing. However, an increasing number of electronically-controlled keyless vehicles are being taken by thieves exploiting their electronics.
They have a number of methods of entering a car and once inside can plug a device into the on-board diagnostic port (OBD) which allows them to download the vehicle's electronic information onto a blank key.
This key is then compatible with the car, allowing them to drive the vehicle away. The process can take just seconds.
Last year, 6,000 cars and vans across London were stolen without the owners’ keys, at an average of 17 per day. It represents 42% of all car and van thefts.
Detective Chief Superintendent Carl Bussey, lead for the week-long Operation Endeavour, said: “This week is about creating awareness amongst drivers and showing them how quickly and simply they can reduce the risk of their vehicles being stolen.”
2014 keyless car thefts (by borough):
- Kensington & Chelsea – 267
- Ealing – 178
- Westminster – 170
- Brent – 168
- Hillingdon – 152
- Hounslow – 130
- Hammersmith & Fulham – 89
- Harrow - 56
Tips to avoid becoming a victim of keyless vehicle theft:
- Use a steering wheel or gear stick lock
- Get an OBD lock professionally fitted
- Make sure the vehicle is locked when you leave it
- Purchase to tracking device to increase chances of recovery if stolen
- If possible park in a well-lit area, garage or staff car park or in an area with CCTV coverage
More information is available online.