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Mercedes 'relay' box thieves caught on CCTV in Solihull

Mercedes 'relay' box thieves caught on CCTV in Solihull

West Midlands Police believe it is the first time the high-tech crime has been caught on camera. A shocking hack allowed two men to fool the Mercedes into thinking they had keys to the auto when, in fact, they didn't.

CCTV of one of the first "relay box" auto thefts has been released by police showing crooks stealing a Mercedes without needing the keys.

The two hooded men were captured on CCTV outside the victim's home in the Elmdon area of Solihull, West Midlands, on 24 September. The Mercedes is parked outside in the victim's driveway. Because the key is not in range of the door and the first relay box is, the attacker's appliance acts as an impostor. The process is then repeated one more time to start the vehicle and away the attackers go, free to drive until they shut off the auto, or it runs out of gas. They are seen to be holding two devices, one that is created to receive a signal from the vehicle key inside the property and the other which is next to the auto, acting as the transmitter.

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The auto, which can be unlocked and started so long as the key fob is nearby - such as in the driver's pocket - was stolen when thieves used a so-called "relay box" to boost the key fob's signal from inside the owner's house, then passed that signal to the vehicle.

The theft took place in less than 60 seconds. The second attacker stands near the front of the house with the second relay unit, which amplifies the signal unlock request, expanding its range until a response is received from the actual key fob. Alternatively, using an old-fashioned steering wheel lock could prevent the vehicle being stolen, or at least slow the thieves down, and fitting the auto with a tracking device is also recommended. The Mercedes has not yet been recovered.