This is a very odd story. A gang of British car thieves was arrested after being caught with a device that was essentially disguised as a Game Boy to be able to access the vehicles and bypass their security systems. This device costs around £20,000 (USD$27,000) and was letting the car thieves start the engine while bypassing the security, allowing them to drive off with the stolen vehicle.
According to BBC News, Dylan Armer, Christopher Bowes, and Thomas Poulson stole five Mitsubishi Outlanders by using the gadget to bypass the cars’ security systems. The trio, all from Yorkshire, was jailed at Leeds Crown Court after pleading guilty to conspiracy to steal. They were arrested after a Mitsubishi Outlander was stolen from a driveway in Scholes on July 20.
When officers stopped the three men they found the Game Boy-style gadget hidden in a secret compartment of their car. They also found a video from Paulson’s phone that showed how quickly and easily the gadget gave them full access to the vehicles. This video was “Accompanied by a commentary in mocking tones” according to the police.
So, how do these devious devices work? The devices are sold by Bulgarian tech firm SOS Auto Keys. They can be used to record data from cars. With this data, the vehicle will recognize the device as an authorized remote to control its entry and ignition. The device is marketed as “The most advanced locksmith tool” available by SOS Auto Keys.
Here’s a video by SOS Auto Keys which shows the process in which the tool opens car doors.
The devices have been on sale since June and as shown above, they look like the Nintendo handheld. The United Kingdom Automobile Association noted that while SOS Auto Keys has stated that the gadget shouldn’t be purchased by anyone with “unlawful intentions”, the device could easily fall into the wrong hands.
Police leaders have been alarmed at the rise in car theft, which hit a record 106,291 last year with a 50% increase over the last six years according to crime stats. Some of the blame is placed on manufacturers for not doing enough to prevent crimes like this.
As mentioned before, the three men arrested are Dylan Armer, Christopher Bowes, and Thomas Poulson. Armer has been sentenced to 30 months in prison, while Bowes and Poulson have been given suspended 22-month sentences. While the story is over here, only time will tell how many more keyless cars will be stolen with devices made by SOS Auto Keys in the future.