Mercedes Gone In 20 Seconds As Thieves Use Keyless Signal Cloning Tech

In case you own a nice or reasonably expensive car and you’d like to keep it that way, it would be wise that you either invest in a garage, or a small metal box.

The garage part is obvious, really. It puts a locked door between your car and anybody who might be interested in stealing it. The metal box however serves a completely different purpose – it masks the signal sent out by your car’s key.

It’s that signal that’s eventually cloned via a signal amplifier, and subsequently sent to a transmitter positioned close to your car. Once that’s finished, the transmitter basically becomes the key and tricks your car into thinking the real key has been used.

This video is an unfortunate, yet perfect example of how easily and quietly a modern car can be stolen. The incident took place in the UK and it involves what looks like a new Mercedes-Benz C-Class saloon. It took roughly 10-seconds for the thieves to boost the key’s signal into their transmitter, and then another 10 seconds to switch places and take off with the car. Here’s what the owner of the Merc had to say:

“Had my car stolen last night. Anyone got keyless go make sure you double click the lock button or put keys in a metal box. Apparently this deactivates the key.”

He also mentioned that the thieves were able to deactivate the car’s GPS tracker, which means authorities could have a really hard time catching up to them.

 

  • LWOAP

    Another problem with modern technology. Thieves can literally unlock the door with the push of a button and drive away.

  • Dr Bjorn Von Strangefingger

    And yet so many want to believe in and trust their lives to Auto Pilot type technology. Even when it is obviously at fault. Ridiculous!

  • CJKnox

    You’d think with all this modern tech that the automakers would also invest in tech safety and security but no. Just focus on those “cool features” no matter how vulnerable they are………

    • Dr Bjorn Von Strangefingger

      First to market is all that matters to them.

    • LWOAP

      Best solution in the meantime is to put your key fob in a metal box or a Faraday cage to keep the signal from leaving your house.

      • Enter Ranting

        The Faraday box should come with the Mercedes. Put a big Mercedes logo on the side of it.

      • Sébastien

        Or just let customer disable the keyless entry…

        I did on my Skoda/VW (with a bit of obdeleven coding)
        can’t believe it’s not in any menu.

        • Andrewthecarguy

          OBD eleven? Wow, that’s advance. I am still on OBD 2, along with the rest of the world 🙂

        • LWOAP

          Unfortunately, I don’t think every automaker is going to be on board with that idea. But Kudos to you for taking the initiative.

    • Marty

      It’s still harder to steal a car than it used to be. The statistics are quite clear. There has been a small increase in the last two years or something because the thieves are catching up, but you have to compare that to the massive decrease since the 90’s, thanks to “all this modern tech”.

      A graph of the US:

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/739bc8daa38675a956ddbdc0f75860689708c3798766c5f6845736f68711d47e.png

  • Joez34

    How far does the key need to be away from your front door for this NOT to work?

    • BlackPegasus

      That transceiver looked pretty large and powerful. All they need is the proximity. If I had to guess I’d say anything within 30-50ft depending on the data transfer. Which means you’d have to hide your key fob around the block to avoid the signal lock. lol

    • Sébastien

      This is at risk even away from home, think as you walk in a shopping mal, someone could do the same…

  • Erzhik

    That was pretty slick though. Might wanna install a physical steering wheel lock next time. Won’t stop them fully, but slow them down enough for you to hear your car running.

    • Enter Ranting

      Putting on a steering wheel lock and removing it every time the car is driven defeats any convenience afforded by keyless entry.

      • Sébastien

        Keyless entry is such a poor security designed feature, two factor is always the way to go… Keyless is only one factor

    • BlackPegasus

      haha old school saves the day again.

    • benT

      Maybe a small car-lift to put the unit off the ground, manual lock and bolt the lift. Various mechanical functions could be devised to lock the lift. Maybe an air lack or something.
      If you get away from a total dependency on the digital “safety” rubbish you have a better chance of stopping theft.

    • europeon

      Or, maybe, just disable keyless entry and use the lock/unlock button on your keyfob when you enter/exit your car?

      • Andrewthecarguy

        Exactly. And if you want the convenience then at least park the car in a garage that is properly secure.

        • LWOAP

          I’d go a step further and have retractable bollards installed at the entry way to my garage door.

  • Enter Ranting

    So, what’s more convenient? Using a physical key to unlock the door, or keeping your car key in a steel box in the house so your car doesn’t get stolen? Pointless tech strikes again…

    • BlackPegasus

      Tech is never pointless. How man uses it is what determines if society is better off with or without it.

      • Joe Sby

        And better have metal line pockets in our pants too?? Thieves can follow you, pick up your key’s signal, and go back to your car.

  • brn

    Takes some balls to steal it from right in front of the door.

    • Andrewthecarguy

      No balls, just 20 secs.

  • Astonman

    The owner suggested besides putting the keys in a metal box, that you can ‘double click the lock button” to stop the thieves. Does double clicking the lock button stop the codes being sent?

    • Sébastien

      It stops the car from listening for the key passively nearby… Will only respond to a key press event.
      It’s annoying to have to dbl click every time, I disabled the passive unlock for good. Sad manufacturer forces such poorly design feature on their cars.

      • Astonman

        Thanks! Good to know. Can’t be that annoying though. Not sure how old you are but in the old days not too long ago, we had to lock the car by sticking the key in the door and lock it manually. Trust me – we have it good!

        • Sébastien

          LOL I remember that, centralized locking was great (from infrared to radio signals) until it stopped requiring our input.

  • tbirdboy

    Sucks the big one but…What goes around, comes around I always say…They’ll get theirs at some point.

  • Marty

    Car theft has decreased a lot because of new tech.

  • Sébastien

    It’s not sophisticated at all, it’s on ebay for very cheap

  • john1168

    Just get a manual transmission…

    • Andrewthecarguy

      Yes.

    • LWOAP

      Best anti-theft device.

    • Sébastien

      Outside US people do know how to use stick shift

  • Vassilis

    I hate keyless entry exactly for that reason. Car manufacturers must step up and improve the system’s security.

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