One would think that stealing luxury cars is a completely different crime compared to hacking. However, a group of car thieves from the UK demonstrated that when it comes to vehicles with high-tech gadgets onboard, hacking plays an important role.
42-year-old Alan Watkins of Essex is suspected of coordinating an operation in which hundreds of cars, worth around £3.5 million (4.4 million EUR or $5.4 million), have been stolen, The Telegraph reports
Watkins and his accomplices would wait around in car parks from London and Essex until a luxury car, such as an Audi, a Range Rover, or a BMW would show up. When the owner pressed the lock button on the remote, the crooks would prevent the door from blocking by using a signal jammer.
Then, they entered the vehicle and hacked into its onboard computer to gain access to information about its key and installed a hidden GPS tracking device.
The key information was used to create a copy of the key and the tracker would allow them to know the car’s location at any time.
For each stolen vehicle, the thieves created false documents and then sold them in Cyprus.
When police raided Watkins’ home, they found the details of over 500 vehicles. Other evidence allowed investigators to link the gang to over 150 car thefts, but the figure may be much higher than that.
The suspects have pleaded guilty to their crimes in front of a Southwark crown court and await sentencing.
“This was a very well organised operation and Watkins employed advanced technology in ways not previously seen in order to enable him to defeat the security on modern vehicles,” said Det Insp Paul Fuller of Scotland Yard.
“Criminals are using more sophisticated methods of stealing cars but we are committed to tackling them and this conviction is a significant step in the ongoing battle against car crime.”