Gaming devices have been turned into gadgets that can unlock cars

The ‘Game Boy’ that steals cars: Retro gaming devices have been turned into £20,000 gadgets that can unlock vehicles without breaking windows, experts warn

  • Gaming devices have been turned into £20,000 gadgets which can unlock cars
  • One such device is built from devices that are similar to old Nintendo Game Boys
  • It records the car’s data and acts as a responder which the car sees as a remote

Retro gaming devices have been turned into £20,000 gadgets which can unlock cars without breaking the locks or windows, the AA has warned.

The most common keyless theft involves criminals ‘relaying’ a signal from the fob inside the owner’s home to the vehicle outside.

But thieves are now using sophisticated gadgets which allow them to enter luxury vehicles without the need to relay from a nearby fob.

One such device is sold by SOS Auto Keys – a tech firm in Bulgaria. It is built from devices that are strikingly similar to old Nintendo Game Boys – the handheld consoles popular with millions of children in the 1990s.

One such device is sold by SOS Auto Keys – a tech firm in Bulgaria. It is built from devices that are strikingly similar to old Nintendo Game Boys (pictured) – the handheld consoles popular with millions of children in the 1990s

The company’s SOS Key Tool is marketed as ‘the most advanced locksmith tool’ available. It is currently being sold for £20,000 but the AA says the price will decrease as the technology becomes more widely available.

The gadget comes with a warning that it should not be bought by anyone with ‘unlawful intentions’ but the AA warns it could easily fall into the wrong hands.

A tutorial video on YouTube shows how it can be used to unlock modern Kia, Hyundai and Mitsubishi models within just a minute.

The gadget records the car’s data and acts as a responder which the vehicle recognises as an authorised remote. The car will unlock and start as if the user had a valid key fob.

The AA said the device, which went on sale in June, demonstrates how the technology used by thieves has never been more sophisticated.

Crime figures reveal a 50 per cent rise in car thefts over the last six years, with a record 106,291 last year.

How the gadget works

The user activates the car’s ‘proximity system’ by pressing the button on the door handle.

Data sent out from the car is then scanned and recorded by the adapted ‘Game Boy’ console.

The user can now select the system of the car and the Game Boy calculates the required response. Once calculated, the Game Boy acts as the responder which the vehicle’s systems recognise as an authorised proximity remote.

The car will now open and start as if the user had a valid key fob nearby.

 

The motoring body has now written to the Home Office and the Department for Business calling for a ban on the gadget’s sale. The Mail understands the Home Office has raised the issue as a matter of urgency with Assistant Chief Constable Jenny Sims, of the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

Police leaders are alarmed at the rise in vehicle theft.

Some have blamed manufacturers for doing little to prevent crime but many admit fewer traffic police mean criminals are less likely to get caught. Victims have been further let down as many forces now treat car theft as a low priority offence.

Luxury vehicles are usually stolen to order and shipped abroad or dismantled in illegal backstreet ‘chop shops’ before being sold piece by piece. In a sign of the scale of the criminal operation, West Midlands Police said they shut down 100 chop shops last year.

While the thieves may earn just £1,500 per vehicle, it remains a lucrative crime and one which is unlikely to see them end up in court.

Jack Cousens, of the AA, said: ‘As fast as car technology evolves, criminals are working just as hard to cheat these systems. What is most worrying is that something sold decades ago has been repurposed to help thieves. With plenty of old gadgets collecting dust, some will tinker with them in the hope they can unlock a car.

‘Thieves have levelled up from playing Grand Theft Auto on a console to using the console to commit Grand Theft Auto.’

SOS Auto Keys in Bulgaria did not respond to a request for comment.

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