Owners of luxury brand prestige cars such as BMW’s, Audi’s and Mercedes in Donegal are urged to be extra vigilant after a spate of robberies of such cars.
The warning comes from local Gardaí who are urging people in the community to be vigilant and keep a sharp eye for movement of vehicles late at night or early morning.
Garda Sgt Paul Wallace said an organised criminal gang have been targeting these types of cars across the North-West.
These gangs are highly skilled thieves who specialise in car theft, and are moving around the country gathering intelligence of where specific vehicles are located with a view of returning at a later date to steal the cars.
High-end cars may be broken into and often small items of personal property are stolen, leaving the impression that the vehicle, whose alarm has been set off, has been robbed purely for minor gain.
However, the break-in allows the thieves to plug a hand-held computer into the car’s OBD (on-board diagnostic) port, and then clone the data on the car’s operating systems and keys.
After the owner of the car has repaired the damage- usually a broken window – the thieves return with the new electronic programmed cloned key that allows them to drive away without any fuss most likely during the night or early morning
Divisional Crime Prevention Officer Sgt Wallace said people should take precautions.
‘Owners of high spec cars for example Audi’s, BMW’s & Mercedes should be mindful of this trend and any interference with high end cars should be reported to Gardaí immediately.
“It is vitally important that these cars receive software updates to update locking mechanisms from established main dealers or independent specialists in an effort to beat the car thief. Simple things for example ensuring your car is locked and the keys are in your possession is a simple first step which appears logical but alas the evidence has proved at times- otherwise.
“Apart from organised car thieves, if any criminal can get access to your car keys either by them being left in the vehicle or close to the front or rear door of the house they will quickly retrieve them and make good their escape- with your car!’.
Stolen cars are normally sold off to unsuspecting buyers, broken down for parts and also sold on to criminal gangs for use in robberies and drugs runs.
Gardai believe the luxury car gangs are part of a wider and highly organised network who have been stealing a variety of vehicle, plant and marine leisure equipment, particularly outboard engines, across Western Europe in recent years.
1. Parking your car in an area with good lighting or cctv cover may deter the thief.
2. Ensure the keys are not easily accessed in the house.
3. Installation of a tracking device in the car should be considered.