Additional reporting by Steven Chisholm
A father of two from Northern Ireland has told of his relief that nobody was hurt after a gang of thieves stole his £62,500 Range Rover from his driveway using an electronic device.
His CCTV system recorded the entire incident, which shows the masked men take around eight minutes to drive off with the luxury SUV.
Raymond Younge was asleep at his home in Donaghcloney, Co Armagh, when a gang of thieves struck in the early hours of July 4.
Mr Younge’s CCTV camera captured the gang using a sophisticated electronic device to override his keyless fob – which he had tucked in his trousers’ pocket upstairs in his bedroom.
Despite the fob being a good distance from his £62,500, top-of-the-range vehicle, the thieves managed to override the system and open his Range Rover.
Earlier that night another car was stolen in nearby Portadown and used by the thieves to travel to Donaghcloney.
Mr Younge said the theft has turned his family life upside down but he is grateful no one was hurt.
“It was only five months old and it was parked on my driveway. Luckily I had CCTV to prove what happened,” he said.
Mr Younge said his wife was very distressed about what had happened but he is thankful no one was hurt during the robbery.
“It’s only a motor. It could have been worse,” he said.
The 40-year-old added he would never have a keyless car again.
He urged those who have keyless cars to take extra precautions by getting a special pouch which can protect against such electronic theft – in a similar way that special wallets protect against theft from contactless bank cards.
Authorities urge extra security measures
Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) Inspector Brian Mills said of the incident: “Detectives are investigating a series of keyless car thefts in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon area. The offences are largely being committed in the Portadown, Waringstown and Donaghcloney areas.
“Organised Crime Gangs are behind these offences. They use portable electronic equipment to amplify and transmit the signal from an electronic car key inside your house to your vehicle parked in your driveway. They are then able to drive your car away. Please be vigilant and take extra security measures.”
Keyless entry systems have been blamed for rises in vehicle theft across the UK. Recent Government figures showed a 40 per cent increase over five years in England and Wales, while a Crime Commissioner in the West Midlands took the unprecedented step earlier this year of naming and shaming manufacturers of the most stolen cars in his district until manufacturers agree to address vulnerabilities.
Ironically the commissioner praised Jaguar Land Rover, manufacturers of Mr Younge’s Land Rover, for ‘tackling the problem of keyless car thefts head on’.
How to protect your car from thieves
Clive Wain, head of police liaison at car recovery firm Tracker, advises some simple steps car owners can take to protect their vehicle from theft.
Mr Wain said: “Whilst the relay devices can receive signals through walls, doors and windows, metal is its enemy, so putting keys in a metal tin or the microwave is a cost-effective way to thwart the criminals. Alternatively, invest in a metal signal blocking pouch, such as a Faraday wallet.
“It’s also worth remembering that vehicle security should be multi-layered and shouldn’t just rely on the keyless security system. Physical barriers, such as crook locks and wheel clamps will deter thieves. And whilst investing in a tracking device won’t stop a car being stolen, it can significantly increase the chances of police locating it and returning it to the rightful owner.”
A version of this story was published in our sister title the Lurgan Mail