In a cunning act of theft, a thief managed to lift a keyless vehicle by using a metal loop to enhance the signal of the vehicle’s fob, a tactic known as relay theft. Increasingly adopted by criminal organizations, this strategy bypasses cutting-edge security mechanisms.
Earlier this month, Henley resident Sarah Baxter fell victim to such theft while nursing her infant during the early morning hours. Her Mercedes, which uses a fob for detection and unlocking instead of a traditional key, was stolen using this deceptive technique.
The thief, caught on camera, used a metal loop to intercept and amplify the signal broadcasted by the fob. This ingenious method allows the perpetrators to sidestep having to purloin the key or break into the house physically. Instead, they position the metal loops near doors or windows to capture the signal.
Relay theft typically necessitates the involvement of two accomplices, one located near the vehicle, and the other near the house, armed with a device to catch the boosted signal.
At the start of the month, Ms. Baxter’s Mercedes was one of nine cars stolen in the Henley vicinity. Describing the experience as “disturbing” and “violative,” she became aware of the incident after inspecting footage from her doorbell security camera showing a man approaching her home.
Describing the event to the press, she said, “A man approaches our side door, brandishing what seems to be a large cable loop, akin to a damaged hula hoop. This apparatus is used to locate the keys and amplify the keyless system’s radar signal, tricking the car into believing the key is nearby. As a result, the car unlocks, and the engine ignites.”
She added, “At the time, I was awake, caring for my newborn baby, constantly moving up and down. It feels incredibly invasive because the window was open, and he was right there performing these acts. So it adds an extra dimension of discomfort.”