Video: Key fob reprogrammers steal BMW in 3 mins
Why car theft using sophisticated key programming devices is a problem that won't go away
PHer 'stolen 1m' (we see where they're going with that username) had their £43K M car stolen from their driveway when thieves smashed a small area of window glass in the car without activating the alarm and used a diagnostic device to reprogramme a key fob through the OBD port.
But a quick internet trawl reveals it's not just BMWs that are vulnerable. Devices similar to that used on BMWs are also available for Opel, Renault, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Toyota and Petrol-engined Porsche Cayennes.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) recognises the problem is a wider issue, though, telling us that they are working to tighten up the procedures for getting hold of these devices, in order to minimise the risk of them falling into undesirable hands. They also say that the industry is working on the technological side of the issue, with companies like Thatcham in particular liaising with police on ways to battle this technological crime.
The reason this form of theft is currently so rife - and admittedly this issue is not limited to BMWs - is that European competition rules require diagnostic and security reprogramming devices to be available to non-franchised garages. As we understand it, this effectively means that car companies cannot restrict access to or use of OBD ports.
Unfortunately it also means that, to a certain extent, the hands of car companies are tied, hence BMW can still only tell us that that they are "aware of recent claims that criminal gangs are targeting premium vehicles from a variety of manufacturers. This is an area under investigation. We have a constant dialogue with police forces to understand any patterns which may emerge. This data is used to enhance our defense (sic) systems accordingly. Currently BMW Group products meet or exceed all global legislative criteria concerning vehicle security."
The longer it goes on the more the insurance companies will be sniffing around to hike premiums etc. The thought of having to fit an aftermarket alarm/immobiliser to a £40k+ new BMW is a bit ridiculous.
Is there any advice to people (not that I'm in the position... my E36 has a proper key!) for what they can do in the meantime?
Well done PH for covering this
Only £20 and it blocks GPS
Didn't know it was this easy !!
Seems to make Trackers redundant if they are this easy to overcome ?
Without requiring that, manufacturers could lock people into their approved dealerships which is utterly unacceptable and breaks a handful of laws which exist for good reason.
Putting the port somewhere it can be accessed without triggering alarms/trackers etc. is obviously dumb - the rules simple say it must be accessible from inside the car - they don't say that it can't be under a seat or behind some sort of secured housing or whatever.
Think it's important you separate those issues, really.
They are just making it very easy to do by leaving the Port live with power when the vehicle is turned off and locked they should instead cut the power to the port and allow the alarm to sound if contact is made to the pins on the port when the vehicle is locked as a deterrent at least.
False triggers keep dealers very busy - and having to take your car into the dealer because the alarm keeps going off is bloody annoying and tends to cause manufacturers to score poorly on those customers satisfaction indexes.
Of course in this case there's a super-super-simple solution - if the alarm is armed and something connects to the OBD port, it should go off surely?
Then there's no need to fk around with the interior sensors...