In 2014, more than 6,000 cars were stolen in London (an average of 17 a day) by hackers using the inadequately secured OBD port under the steering wheel to download the vehicle’s information onto a blank key. And all it takes is a few seconds.
There was an 8% increase in vehicle theft across the U.K. capital in the last year, so police are urging drivers to better protect their cars. For instance, they should use a steering wheel lock, get an OBD lock professionally installed, park their vehicle in a well-lit area or a garage, and consider purchasing a tracking device.
While cars are stolen without the keys throughout the day, every day, intelligence suggests that this peaks between 10 pm and 4 am, when it is dark, Sundays to Thursdays. The criminals then drive the vehicles into the home counties, where most are stripped down into their component parts and then shipped abroad. They are sold overseas, particularly in Africa where specific types of vehicles are in high demand.