Keyless technology sparked a sharp rise in theft of luxury cars, new figures ...

Keyless technology has led to a sharp rise in thefts of luxury cars, figures show.

More than 14,000 premium models were stolen between January and October this year, according to an analysis of insurance claims by Direct Line.

That is more than double the amount over the same period in 2015 and means a luxury vehicle is stolen once every 38 minutes on Britain's roads.

Police and insurance firms believe the rise in car thefts is partly because modern keyless cars provide easy pickings (stock image)

Police and insurance firms believe the rise in car thefts is partly because modern keyless cars provide easy pickings (stock image)

Police and insurance firms believe the rise is partly because modern keyless cars provide easy pickings for thieves.

A recent report from vehicle security experts has also highlighted tactics used by criminal gangs who share information in encrypted messages via WhatsApp and other online platforms to create shopping lists of desirable vehicles.

Many of these premium models are identified as being in demand in overseas markets, especially high-end SUVs which tend to be shipped to Africa having been stolen from their rightful owners in the UK.

Gangs not only use the messaging services to list the models they're hunting for but also share details of where examples of these vehicles are, how to remove any tracking devices that might be fitted to them and even delivery addresses for chop shops where they can be broken down into parts and sold as spares.

These organised tactics also allow them to quickly create a cloned identity for the motor they've stolen and replace the number plate with one belonging to a similar car somewhere else in the country, making it difficult for Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera to detect their whereabouts after being stolen. 

Home Office figures show the number of vehicles pinched in Britain has almost doubled in the last five years, mainly a result of the rise in keyless - also known as 'relay' - thefts.

In 2017-18, nearly 112,000 cars were taken illegally, up from 75,308 in the 2013-14 financial year.

Keyless technology, which allows you to open your car door without having your key in your hand, is becoming increasingly common in newer cars.

When you put your hand on your car's door handle, the vehicle sends out a radio signal and, provided your key fob is within range, the door will open.

However, the technology can be vulnerable to hacking. 

In August, an investigation found that some keyless models can be stolen in as little as ten seconds (stock image)

In August, an investigation found that some keyless models can be stolen in as little as ten seconds (stock image)

If your key fob is in a house, for example, criminals can use a device to increase the signal so the car thinks the fob is closer than it is and they can still open the door.

In August, an investigation found that some keyless models can be stolen in as little as ten seconds. 

The new analysis by Direct Line Car Insurance found that, between January and October this year, more than 14,300 premium cars were stolen across the UK.

That's more  than double the amount over the same period in 2015 (6,600). 

So far in 2019

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