Video: Key fob reprogrammers steal BMW in 3 mins


Recent chat on the PistonHeads forums about a worrying trend in the theft of BMWs with electronic keys has gained new traction as a PHer has posted a CCTV video on YouTube of his BMW 1M Coupe being stolen within three minutes.

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."

 

Comments (484) Join the discussion on the forum

  • bertie 17 Apr 2013

    EddieFelson said:
    bertie said:
    My X5 was update last October, and the fix I was informed about was the removal of the ability to add keys over the diagnostics without and original key.
    So what happens if you lose the original key?
    Same as all other systems, if you loose all the keys you have to replace the security control unit and keys.

  • David87 16 Apr 2013

    Thank you very much. beer

  • CraigyMc 16 Apr 2013

    David87 said:
    Apologies if this has already been answered, but has anyone listed exactly which models of BMW are at risk? The reason I ask is my Granddad has recently purchased a 2011 E92 3-series and I told him to speak to the dealer before he bought it about any updates or recalls for some sort of fix for the theft issues, but they said there was nothing that could be done. Does that sound right?

    Exactly the same thing seems to now be happening to the Mk2 Focus ST and RS too. frown
    Call BMW UK on 0800 083 4397 to see if your grandad's car is affected.

    It's "most BMW's built from 2007 to September 2011".

    If the dealer's service department doesn't know what you're talking about when you ask directly, get BMW UK to put you through after you talk with them about it, on that number.

    C

  • David87 16 Apr 2013

    Apologies if this has already been answered, but has anyone listed exactly which models of BMW are at risk? The reason I ask is my Granddad has recently purchased a 2011 E92 3-series and I told him to speak to the dealer before he bought it about any updates or recalls for some sort of fix for the theft issues, but they said there was nothing that could be done. Does that sound right?

    Exactly the same thing seems to now be happening to the Mk2 Focus ST and RS too. frown

  • carinaman 16 Apr 2013

    'Approved used BMW, with yes we ensure all BMW approved used cars have the key fob vulnerability upgrade, or we pay your insurance excess when it gets nicked'?

View all comments in the forums Make a comment