It’s not the first time we’ve heard this kind of story. A car theft ring used a cloning device to whisk away cars with smart keys off their owner’s driveways. It’s usually done in less than a minute, and often times, it’s as if the car just let the thief in it.
While cases like that aren’t exactly new, there is a recent report that grabbed attention. This time around, it’s from West Yorkshire, England. The modus operandi is the same, but it’s the way the car thieves disguised the smart key cloning device. They shaped it in a way that look like an innocent-looking game boy. To the untrained eye, it looks like any other Game Boy that has come and gone over the years.
However, it’s wider than your average Game Boy, and slimmer as well. Still, at first glance, you can mistake it for something else. According to the West Yorkshire Police, the key cloning device is worth 20,000 GBP, which is about $ 27,226 at current exchange rates. While you can buy a stripped-out entry-level Miata for that price, you can say that the car thieves got a big return on their ‘investment’.
Because of that device, the West Yorkshire Police said the thieves made off with 180,000 GBP, or just a hair over $245,000 right before they were arrested. The gang of three were apprehended following another theft. The trio were arrested and linked to five more reports in the area. Their target car of choice? The Mitsubishi Outlander.
Confiscated video from the suspects show just how effortlessly the thieves open the car. By the looks of it, all they had to do was put the device near the door handle and the car’s locks disengage. The hazard lights even flash as if the real fob was used.
Thieves can get the signal from your fob just by standing near your home and clone it from there. So what can be done to prevent this? There are three recommendations floating around. The first us to use a signal blocking pouch, also known as a Faraday Bag. This pouch prevents the would be thieves from cloning your fob. Another alternative is to turn off the fob’s wireless signal, but that depends on the vehicle model.
Of course, there’s always the steering wheel lock. As car thieves equip themselves with more electronic gadgets, going old-school might be enough to deter them.