Experiment Shows Thieves Can Steal Any Car They Want in Under a Minute

Stealing a Range Rover Sport SVR Is Easy 12 photos
Photo: Mark McCann on YouTube | Edited
2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVRStealing a 2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVRStealing a 2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVRStealing a 2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVRStealing a 2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVRStealing a 2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVRThe KitThe KitStolen CarTesla Key
Ever since the "Kia Boyz" started stealing Hyundais and Kias because they learned about the missing immobilizer and wanted to look cool on TikTok, car theft has become a national headache in the US. It even extended to Canada! However, it's not even close to how bad it is over the pond in the UK.
Over there, many Land Rover owners can't even get insurance for their posh vehicles. Providers just don't want to risk it. However, this test proves that the popular relay attack method is now old. A new method allows thieves to get in and start virtually any vehicle with a keyless access system. And they can do it all in less than 60 seconds. So, it's not just newer Land Rovers.

A supercar owner turned YouTuber based in the UK decided to show everyone just how easily a pricey vehicle can be taken away from its rightful owner. He arranged for a used 2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR to be stolen from a shopping center's parking lot.

Bear in mind that it was all planned from the get-go. He didn't ask the masked man to put his professional car-stealing skills on display by unlocking and starting a random stranger's ride. Someone's day wasn't ruined because of this experiment.

The most interesting part isn't that they managed to get access and start a pricey Range Rover in under a minute, but the fact that the man portraying as a car thief didn't need the vehicle's key fob to be nearby.

2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR
Photo: Mark McCann on YouTube
He tricked the car into thinking that the "unlock" signal came from the rightful owner without copying or replicating the unique key fob code. Then, he plugged another device into the SUV's OBD port, and that was it. The YouTuber was able to drive off with the pricey prop.

The man portraying as a nefarious actor said that they would unlock a car, drive it in a nearby, quiet area, remove any tracking devices (like the aftermarket ones or those installed by OEMs), and then move it again further away from its home to get it ready for export or to chop it into parts.

Almost anyone can do it

The tools needed to steal almost any car (including vans and EVs) with a keyless access system cost around $15,000. The locksmith kit alone costs over $4,500. That's the gold rectangle that goes into the OBD port and helps generate a new key and program it to the vehicle's immobilizer.

A dealership technician, an authorized locksmith, or a thief can create a brand-new key in under half a minute. Afterward, the new code sequences can be memorized on a new fob. Yes, the same company sells key fobs, too.

Customers who buy the whole set get free software support, access to a troubleshooting hotline, important documentation, and step-by-step instructions. The commercial entity that's selling these products claims they are for "official use only."

Stealing a 2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR
Photo: Mark McCann on YouTube
However, it warns customers that it's their responsibility to respect the law and not use these tools "for any illegal reason." So, it might have an idea about what buyers might be doing with its pricey products. But can you blame an entrepreneur for trying to make money?

Don't lose hope just yet

Fortunately, car owners who can't park in a garage or a closed driveway that's not in plain view have a couple of solutions. Don't start to feel anxious because they don't involve fighting the people who attempt to steal your precious set of wheels. After all, as expensive as some cars may be, it's not worth it to become severely injured or die trying to stop the thieves.

The first thing you can do is make sure you have the right type of insurance. Verify that all the necessary coverage is in the policy, and don't do anything that could allow the provider to waive its responsibility. There have been cases where claims were rejected because the owner didn't have all the car keys after a theft. So, watch out!

The next best thing is completely disabling the keyless access system. You may even want to ask your dealer to remove the module entirely. That's guaranteed to stop these savvy thieves from starting your car in under a minute.

Stealing a 2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR
Photo: Mark McCann on YouTube
Afterward, you still need to protect your key fob from a relay attack. So, the most convenient thing is to store it in a Faraday pouch while at home. Fret not; even good ones are cheap.

A steering wheel lock could also be a good idea, depending on where you live, because it may become a soft deterrent. Thieves might give up on stealing your ride because they would have to make noise and delay their plan.

Another good idea, as presented in the video below, is a ghost immobilizer. Thieves would have to tow your car. They wouldn't be able to get it going without knowing the right sequence to put the vehicle into "Drive."

One other suggestion would be to place an AirTag or a SmartTag somewhere inside the car, but you'd have to remove the speaker prior to doing that. The small tracking devices make a sound to deter people from spying on each other.

Some manufacturers offer trackers of their own (i.e., Car Finder on Hyundai BlueLink), but thieves might be aware of this tech beforehand. They could remove it quickly after stealing the car. Aftermarket solutions exist, too. But you would have to find the right shop to install them.

Tesla Key
Photo: trifinite on YouTube

Tesla's implementation deserve recognition. That PIN-to-drive feature is great. It even moves the numpad around so thieves can't guess what the numerical code is based on your fingerprints. More brands should implement it.

Another interesting idea comes from Genesis. The automaker implemented a facial recognition system. But a PIN is much simpler and more convenient.

Mercedes-Benz installed a fingerprint scanner in some of their newer models, but the Germans want to allow you to pay with your unique biometric signature, They're not that interested in stopping thieves from leaving with your car. It has the Mercedes Me suite for that.

Thus, solutions exist. If you ask me, the best solution seems to be a combo of good insurance and a ghost immobilizer. The simplest way to avoid thieves' attention is to have a garage and a fence, but not everyone can live in a house.

Finally, technology is great. It can make our lives easier. However, as unlucky Land Rover owners have proven, it can also bring us too many headaches. One can only hope that authorities will be more involved in stopping this phenomenon from spreading. Otherwise, car owners living in dense urban areas might start considering very cheap cars or using public transit.

If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram
About the author: Florin Amariei
Florin Amariei profile photo

Car shows on TV and his father's Fiat Tempra may have been Florin's early influences, but nowadays he favors different things, like the power of an F-150 Raptor. He'll never be able to ignore the shape of a Ferrari though, especially a yellow one.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories