By Katie Weston For Mailonline
Published: 11:39 BST, 1 May 2020 | Updated: 11:40 BST, 1 May 2020
A Moldovan 'burglary tourist' was jailed for ten months after travelling to the UK to steal luxury keyless cars, including a £37,000 BMW, using high-tech devices.
Vadim Muntean, 31, was arrested at the wheel of his Mazda after a policeman patrolling an affluent suburb in Cheshire following a spate of burglaries saw him and an accomplice in the area.
The officer seized a rucksack from Muntean which contained an amplifying signal device which can help users steal cars without keys, a tracker jamming device so the vehicle cannot be tracked once stolen plus a GPS system.
Two relay boxes, pictured. The larger white box and smaller blue box work together, showing a real-time communication between the two when both lights are live (file photo)
His phone was also found to contain messages identifying several vehicles and their registration numbers including a BMW worth £37,000.
Further inquiries revealed Muntean had arrived in the UK a week before the incident and it is thought he was planning to return to his native Moldova following the vehicle thefts.
At Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, Muntean was jailed for ten months and his accomplice Semion Lazur, 28, who lives in a serviced apartment in Crumpsall was locked up for eight months after both admitted being equipped for theft. Both face being deported following their release.
The arrests occurred on October 30 last year after the pair were spotted loitering in a cul-de-sac in the upmarket suburban village of Woodford.
Keyless cars are targeted by tech-savvy criminals who can gain access in as little as 20 seconds. Graphic illustrates two thieves using relay boxes to unlock a vehicle (file photo)
Prosecutor Julian King said: 'An officer had been on mobile patrol in an affluent housing estate where houses are expensive and where expensive cars are parked along the residential driveways.
'An officer saw a blue Mazda and spoke to the occupants. Mr Lazur was in the front passengers seat and Mr Muntean was driving.
An amplifier device can increase the power of a signal.
It works by picking up the low frequency wireless signal that locked cars regularly emit to detect when their owner’s fob is near.
The device re-transmits that signal at a higher frequency through a separate laptop-sized device, which can send it across much longer distances.
That allows the laptop-sized device to silently connect with the actual key fob, creating a long-distance bridge that connects it to the car.
The real fob then replies to a series of challenge/response security messages to verify its authenticity, and then the car unlocks.
'The officer asked what they were doing and they said they had come to see a mate. They appeared to be agitated and the officer told Mr Muntean to switch the ignition off.
'The officer then opened a rucksack and found the devices at which they appeared even more agitated and were arrested.
'Mr Muntean's phone contained messages identifying several vehicles registration numbers including a BMW worth £37,000.
'When arrested they both denied wrongdoing at interview. Mr Lazure said he had settled in the UK in 2016 and Mr Muntean said he had arrived just a week before the incident.
'He claimed Mr Lazure told him to drive to the estate and that he didn't know what was in the rucksack. He denied being involved in attempted burglary and said he had been visiting a friend.
'Neither have previous convictions in the UK or abroad.'
In mitigation for Muntean, defence lawyer James Preece said: 'He asks me