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Hi-tech car thefts halt after seizure of signal device

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The gang was redirecting the electronic signal of key fobs

The gang was redirecting the electronic signal of key fobs

The gang was redirecting the electronic signal of key fobs

Gardai have put the brakes on a spate of thefts by a hi-tech crime gang which stole cars by remote control.

The stolen motor vehicle unit in the garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation has been targeting the gang since a surge last year in the number of vehicles taken by redirecting the electronic signal from a key fob in the owner's house.

A warning was issued to motorists with keyless entry cars to be extra vigilant and take several security precautions.

Officers made a breakthrough earlier this year when they seized a reading device used by the criminals during an operation in Co Dublin.

Analysed

A man was arrested and questioned about the device. Since the seizure four months ago, no remote-control thefts of previously targeted Nissan, BMW and Toyota models have been recorded.

Further inquiries are now being carried out, and the seized device has been analysed. Gardai believe similar devices remain in the hands of criminals.

A senior garda said last night it was likely the Covid-19 lockdown played a part in the fall-off in the thefts but the seizure and arrest were significant moves in their investigation.

A total of 139 vehicles were stolen nationwide in a nine-month period in 2019 through the use of redirected signals.

The head of the garda stolen motor vehicle investigation unit, Detective Superintendent Michael Mullen, has renewed his appeal to motorists to be more careful and said they should ensure their vehicles are locked when parked.

Motorists can also buy a blocking wallet around €5, or fit a steering column lock, which prevents the thieves from driving away.