A gadget that allows thieves to break into cars with electronic locks in minutes is being openly sold on Amazon and eBay. Priced at $333, the device lets criminals intercept the radio signal from the key as a car owner unlocks the vehicle. It is downloaded to a laptop and the thieves then transmit the stolen signal to break in when the owner leaves it unattended.
Called ‘HackRF One’ the radio device works from up to 30ft away, allowing the crook to remain hidden. YouTube videos demonstrating how to use the gadget to break into a car have been watched tens of thousands of times online.
However, Andrew Miller, chief technical officer at the motor insurers’ centre Thatcham Research, said: ‘Most of these technologies are designed for only one purpose, which is to break into a car.
‘It tends to be organised crime which uses these devices and the problem is only going to get worse. The Government needs to review the availability of these items.’ Car manufacturers have introduced encryption on key fobs in an attempt to overcome ‘signal grabbing’ but the HackRF One features jamming technology that bypasses that security.
In 2015 more than 6,000 cars and vans were seized across the capital by gangs using key fobs that bypass vehicle security systems. Last month thieves were caught on camera using a laptop to break into a £35,000 Mercedes and driving off.
A Land Rover spokesman said: ‘Jaguar Land Rover is concerned but aware of the illegal use of equipment used to attack security systems on modern vehicles.
‘We have a dedicated team working tirelessly with the aim of keeping customer vehicles secure from these criminal gangs, who are continually attempting to devise new ways of hacking into vehicles.’
EBay rules state it does not sell illegal items but using one of these devices without a specific radio licence is an offence under the Wireless Telegraphy Act.
An eBay spokesman said: ‘The device is widely available and is advertised as having a broad range of uses. We have not been advised of any restrictions on its sale.’ Amazon declined to comment.
Founder of Great Scott Gadgets Michael Ossmann said: ‘We encourage auto makers and automobile owners to use test equipment such as HackRF One to test their own vehicles as permitted by law.’
A YouTube spokesman said: ‘YouTube has clear policies that outline what content is acceptable to post and we remove videos violating these policies.’ The Home Office declined to comment.
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