Police have warned that some recent thefts from vehicles which took place in 3 Berkshire service stations have involved the use of radio jammers.
Remote Technology Used.
Thames Valley Police have said that thefts from the Chieveley, Reading and Membury services on the M4 have involved the use of radio jamming devices. These devices can be bought cheaply online, the sales of which are likely to be difficult to trace due the fact that many sellers of these items are believed to be unscrupulous or have links to crime. Criminals always find ways of upping their game and this seems to be one of them ways.
Although there appears to be no clear proof, police believe that this is the most likely explanation because, in 14 cases, there have been obvious signs of a break-in.
The fact that lorries, vans and cars have been successfully targeted also suggests that jammers rather than keys or similar methods were used.
At Chieveley Services for example, thieves took tools, a suitcase and a laptop. At Membury, it was luggage, wallets and cash were stolen while at Reading Services 3 high end vehicles were targeted. All attacks are thought to have involved the use of jammers. Its best to double check that your car is in fact locked before walking away.
How Could The Jammers Have Be Used?
As the name suggests, radio jammers interrupt and interfere with radio signals.
Modern vehicle keys use radio signals to lock / unlock the doors. Not many people know that this is the case. In fact you can unlock a car over the phone if someone stands by your own car and you press the unlock button down the phone whilst the other person holds the phone close to the car door. So by using Radio jammers these signals can be stopped remotely and they can easily cover an area the size of a service station car park.
Police therefore believe that the thieves were able to take up a remote position in the car park, far enough away from their targets and other drivers to not be observed, but close enough to be able to operate the jammer as drivers were pressing the ‘lock’ button on their key fobs. A radio jamming signal can prevent the car doors from locking and without a manual check by the driver they are therefore left unlocked until the driver returns.
Service Station Car Parks Perfect Target
Service station car parks are of course very attractive to thieves using this method since they are busy and fast moving areas with a high turnaround of transient users who are unlikely to know or to notice who is the owner of a specific vehicle. It is also the case that service station users are more likely to have more valuable items in their vehicles e.g. holiday and work-related items like laptops.
Not to mention that people in service stations have gone to the station because they want to spend time outside of their car for a while because they have been driving for a long time or need to use the rest rooms in either case both provide plenty of time for the thieves to do their dirty work.
Problems With Insurance Claims Likely
There are concerns that because there was no forced entry, victims of these crimes may have difficulty with their insurance claims. No visible signs of forced entry like broken locks or windows.
It’s unfortunate but criminals are gaining access to technologies which make them harder and harder to detect and catch at doing these things. And by them leaving no traces it is hard for insurance companies to pay out for missing items when there isn’t much evidence to show they were stolen.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
This news is of course very significant to business travellers using the M4, using any other UK motorways, or indeed using public car parks.
The advice is for all motorists to:
- Listen carefully to ensure the locking mechanism has engaged.
- Check that the door is actually locked before leaving your vehicle, even if you have pressed the lock button on your key fob as normal.
- Don’t leave valuable items in the vehicle / in view in the vehicle if possible.
Additionally, if you use a laptop or mobile device with sensitive data (e.g. business data) consider encrypting the contents and of course always lock them with a robust password.