A surveillance video shared by West Midlands Police, United Kingdom shows car hacking thieves stole a Mercedes within a few seconds without keys and even without touching the vehicle – Thanks to a relay device. A relay box is an electrically operated switch which works in such a way that other than the metal it can detect and receive signals through doors, windows, and walls.
In the video that was recorded by the victim’s CCTV, it can be seen that two men are standing outside a house carrying two relay boxes. One man carrying the device is standing nearby the house’s main door or a window trying to catch signals from the car’s key inside the house while the second one is catching those signal with the second device in order to unlock the car without the key.
A relay box works in such a way that it extends the signal coming from the car keys inside the house and tricks the car’s system into believing that it’s the actual key and unlocks its door without any warning alarm. Both thieves used the same method to steal the Mercedes right in front of the victim’s home.
The incident took place on September 24th, 2017 however at the time of publishing this article the stolen vehicle couldn’t be located. According to Mark Silvester of West Midlands Police, car owners should use a Thatcham-approved steering lock [PDF] to cover the entire steering wheel.
This is not the first time that an expensive keyless car was stolen in such a manner. In April this year, a £60,000 BMW X5 was stolen by two thieves apparently by using relay boxes hidden inside a bag. The video of that feat is available here.
In the other incident, a car owner shared his side of the story revealing how a hacker successfully unlocked his vehicle the keys to which they lost months ago. Events like this show keyless cars are highly vulnerable to theft, therefore, Ray Anderson, a security expert advises car owners to protect the fob by putting it in a metal box, or perhaps in a fridge since the metal would block signals that are otherwise constantly emitted.