- West Midlands Police/Business Insider
- Thieves in Solihull, England, used a relay box device to steal a car.
- The technology picks up the signal from the car’s keys – which were inside the house – and repeats it.
- The trick fooled the Mercedes, which unlocked, started up, and was stolen.
Two thieves have been filmed using signal amplifiers to steal a Mercedes by tricking it into thinking that they had the keys.
Video released by police shows two men in Solihull, near Birmingham, make off with the car from outside its owners home.
Officers said the thieves, who have not been identified or caught, used devices called relay boxes to fool the car’s internal technology.
The boxes are capable of picking up the signal from a set of keys held inside the house, and re-broadcasting in another location.
This can fool the car’s sensors into thinking the keys – and therefore the car’s rightful owner – are present. It then unlocks and allows the driver to start the engine without physically having the keys.
The men in the video used two relay boxes to trick the Mercedes into unlocking. The whole process took less than one minute.
CCTV footage was given to the police as evidence after the theft, which took place on September 24. It was released on November 26 in the hope that members of the public could help provide more information.
Police experts said that owners whose cars use this technology can prevent theft by using an old-fashioned steering lock, which manually stops the wheel from turning.
Cars can also be patched to make their software more secure, police said, but it is unclear whether this can offer blanket protection against the type of theft seen in the video.