Thieves Filmed Stealing Mercedes By Hacking Keyless Entry Outside Owner’s House

Police have just released footage of a Mercedes-Benz C-Class being stolen in the British town of Solihull.

Usually, a simple vehicle theft wouldn’t be particularly newsworthy. However, this tale is a little different as the Mercedes was unlocked and stolen without a key.

CCTV footage of the crime shows the two thieves approaching the car with two relay boxes. This little device can receive the signals from a keyless remote through walls, doors, and windows. Once one of the thieves captures the signal, it is automatically passed through to a second box being held near the car, opening the vehicle’s doors.

According to local authorities, the C-Class has yet to be recovered, despite the entire crime being captured on film.

Understandably, many vehicle owners have become concerned about the security of keyless fobs in the wake of the theft. Consequently, experts at Thatcham Research have suggested that concerned drivers should contact their dealer for information about how to prevent such crimes.

West Midlands Police officer Mark Silverster said there are ways for owners to protect against such thefts.

“To protect against this type of theft, owners can use an additional tested and Thatcham-approved steering lock to cover the entire steering wheel. We also recommend Thatcham-approved tracking solutions fitted to the vehicle,” he said.

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  • supermanuel

    And the manufacturers are accepting liability for developing/adopting technology that is so easily hacked?

    Hmm, thought not.

    • Vassilis

      Exactly my thoughts. The solution to this isn’t steering locks and tracking systems. It’s using advanced encryption between the fob and the car’s ECU. This is exactly why I’m staying away from keyless entry cars as much as possible.

      • pureworx

        i don’t think encryption will solve this problem, as the hack relies on a singal boost really.. kind of like expanding your wifi signal.. even if the keys are using encryption, all thieves need to do is boost that encrypted singal to within range of the car and the system will work.

        one possible fix would be to use a key check once the vehicle has been driven a little, if the key is not found it should shut down and dead lock the doors trapping the alleged thieves.

        • europeon

          Yeah, indeed, no amount of encryption can render this kind of attack useless.
          Funny thing is that most vehicles start beeping like crazy when they detect the key has lost proximity, yet you can continue driving them indefinitely.

          • pureworx

            i know, but what is the point of beeping if it does nothing? should have a few set beeps before shutting the vehicle down and trapping the occupant.

        • Vassilis

          Hm, good point.

      • Jan Mleziva

        Good for you that thieves have never gotten into a car that uses keys yet.
        Actually, wait…

        • Vassilis

          haha yeah OK but it’s easier to steal a car using the relay box. As far as I’m aware, when thieves get into a car they use the OBD port to programme a key. There are OBD locks out there that protect from that. If they rip it off they also rip off the port.

    • europeon

      Just disable keyless entry, and you’re fine. It’s THAT simple.

      • trentbg

        Or place the key in a mini Faraday cage 🙂

        • europeon

          Heh, a couple of days ago I was looking on ebay for Fadaday bags.

  • Craig

    I once owned a 1993 Lexus LS400. On the dashboard was an on/off switch for the remote control. I’ve never seen that before. Whenever I parked the car somewhere I was unfamiliar with [like a movie theatre parking lot or airport] I would turn the remote off and use the key to unlock the door. Maybe that’s all it would take to deal with this problem.

    • Skydis

      Never heard of that before, maybe that would be a quick and easy fix for this

    • Victor Ferreira

      There was really nothing wrong with having keys with a remote. Sure, this whole keyless entry thing is convenient (I have it in my car) but it’s hardly worth it if this is the type of risk you’re taking.

  • Ameer Hassan Tajaldeen

    good thing i live in a place where there is secured parking behind high walls and a massive steel gate

    • Knotmyrealname

      Sad to hear that this is the solution.

    • khc

      Yes, and a private security team armed with AK-47s and grenade launchers.

  • wait a minute

    so you buy a premium car with convenient keyless entry; then you have to manhandle a 80’s type metal steering wheel lock each time you park.

  • if the thieves can break the cutting edge high tech security in a minute, I dont think steering locks invented in the 70s would do any good.

    • salamOOn

      thats not exactly true.
      thieves do not like to waste a time during stealing a car….
      so the more obstacles they need to solve the better for owner.
      eventually they would rather choose a car without it.

  • Howstar

    Don’t have you car keys in, or next to the front door… problem solved

    • Toronado_II

      …or put them in a steel vault. Then they can’t catch the signal.

      • Status

        They can’t catch the signal if the steel vault acts as a Faraday cage. Otherwise, you’re SOL.

  • Just like your phone & wallet

    Oh come on! Ignore this plain dumb advice from Police, car manufacturers/dealers, and Thatcham-approved products sales push….

    The EASY solution….simply keep your car keys in a faraday cage/bag/box.

  • thunder bolt

    Install an on/off switch on the keyless fob. when it’s on it sends out a valid signal, when it’s off it sends out a fuck you signal.

  • THERE’S A HUGE AFTERMARKET BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY THERE RETROFITTING CARS WITH MANUAL KEYED IGNITIONS.

  • Enter Ranting

    So, any convenience you get with keyless entry is defeated by having to remove a Thatcham-approved steering lock that covers the entire steering wheel. Ahhh, technology…

  • FoxJ30

    So I have another reason not to like keyless entry – first and foremost, I hate not being able to check that my doors are locked by just pulling on the handle. This is just icing on the cake.

    In most circumstances, what’s so hard about pressing a button on the remote to unlock?

  • Recommend googling for fobguard for a handy pouch that stops these kinds of attacks

  • JCL

    Interestingly, on this particular model (and several other MB’s), you could “disable” keyless start by physically pulling out the cover of the starter button. By pulling off the cover, I believe you need to physically insert the key fob into the slot and turn to start like any other non-keyless start car. An owner could simply remove the cover and take it with him/her if parked in a shady area, for example. Obviously, this isn’t foolproof since: a) a thief could also theoretically be carrying a generic Mercedes starter button cover as well, and b) one likely wouldn’t think of removing the cover when parked at home. I thought it was interesting to point out nonetheless, since it at least provides a potential hurdle to similar thefts.

    Unfortunately, MB has started to change the starters in its newest models (E and S class, for example) which will likely trickle down to all future models. The newest starters do not have removable covers like most other cars.

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