Car News

Jaguar stolen “in 60 seconds” in NZ. Is your keyless entry car safe?

Car thieves have been using technology to crack keyless entry systems in Europe for a number of years, and now it seems they’re being used Down Under.

A THIEF STROLLED casually into a car yard in broad daylight in Auckland and within 60 seconds drove away with a brand new Jaguar XFR (indicating that he also had excellent taste, as well as skill). He is believed to have used a device to override the Jaguar’s keyless technology to steal the $NZ165,000 car from a Penrose, New Zealand dealership.

CCTV footage shows a man walking onto the car yard with his hand in his pocket before “somehow” unlocking it and driving off. The dealer manager Andrew Beacham said the car was locked and the keys were still in his possession. The man was not known to the dealership and his ability to override the robust security systems has left staff baffled.

“This guy is a professional. It’s something that has been organised. It’s not your everyday car theft. We never heard anything and only realised an hour later that the car was missing.”

Keyless car technology works when the device containing a chip – usually a small disc – is encrypted with a unique code syncing it to a vehicle. It only needs to be near the car to unlock it, and inside the vehicle to start the engine. Each device is encrypted to one specific vehicle and connects only to that car using a radio frequency.

According to a Queensland University of Technology expert in computer science and information security, keyless cars are most vulnerable to theft once they have left the factory and before they have been delivered to the new owner. Hackers are trying to access or pick the supply chain because it is easiest before a particular system has been connected. While the car is still under the factory settings is when it is most vulnerable.

While the specifics of the Auckland theft are not yet clear, it would appear the thief used a factory key rather than a scanning device that would have had to have been programmed to the specific code of the system it was hacking.

Similar thefts have been reported in Europe and the US, but this is the first reported case in Australasia.

Paul Murrell

Paul Murrell

Paul’s mother knew he was a car nut when, aged three, he could identify oncoming cars from their engine note alone. By 10, he had decided what his first car would be and begun negotiations with a bank to arrange finance, the first of many expensive automotive mistakes. These days, he is happy to drive other people’s cars (on the road, off the road or on the track) and write up what’s good about them and what isn’t.