Police are hunting high-tech car thieves after they were caught on video using sophisticated equipment to hack into and steal a vehicle.
Property developer Jason Lang, 49, captured footage of the moment two masked men gained access to his £30,000 Toyota within seconds, while the wireless key was still inside his house.
Mr Lang discovered the fate of his year-old vehicle when he watched CCTV recordings of his driveway in Heywood, Greater Manchester.
“The keys were actually located about 30 feet away from where the thief was stood,” explained Mr Lang.
They were able to drive away in the car by using a powerful transmitter to trick the car’s onboard computer into believing the key was present and allow it to be unlocked and started.
Larry Trowell, a consultant at technology company Synopsys Inc, said the device took advantage of the car’s keyless starting feature.
He added that such devices can have an effective range of over 300 metres.
Not in my wildest dreams did I think something could pick a signal up from that distance.Jason Lang
Mr Lang took precautions to protect his vehicle, and believed the keys were safe.
He said: “I had it in my mind, never leave your keys on your porch windowsill for two reasons: they can either be hooked through your door or there are devices that can interfere with them.
“Not in my wildest dreams did I think something could pick a signal up from that distance.”
Mr Trowell recommended motorists store keys as far away from external walls as possible, or consider using a radio-frequency shield or an “old-school lock” for the steering wheel.
Last year, the vehicle tracking specialists Tracker released statistics revealing that 96% of motorists are at risk from so-called “relay” thefts, in which thieves use transmitters to access cars without keys.
Mr Lang said it was “vital” that more is done to increase awareness of these kinds of high-tech thefts but added that he believed responsibility should lie with the manufacturer.
“The customer should be no worse off through no fault of their own,” he said.
Greater Manchester Police have launched an investigation and are appealing for anyone with any information to come forward.