With the Right Device, Current BMWs Are Easy to Steal
With all of the advances made to vehicle technology in recent years, it'd be easy to assume that security has never been better. A video showing security footage released to the Web a couple of months ago proves otherwise, however, as thieves managed to approach a BMW one minute, and drive off with it moments later - all without having the original key.
Unfortunately, that wasn't a one-off event. With reports of BMW thefts increasing in certain areas around the UK, BBC's Watchdog looked into the matter and discovered things that could make any Bimmer owner cringe. Not only is it possible to steal a current BMW within 3 minutes, the device used to pull it off is available online for anyone to purchase.
BMWs have computers under the hood like most other cars, but to "improve" security, these ones have a special function. Via radio waves, the owner's key will communicate with the computer when inserted, and if it's recognized, the door can be opened and the car started up. But what if you lose your key? This is where things get scary. The same computer used to acknowledge your key is also able to create a new key in event the original is ever lost. The devices required to do this are expensive, but for thieves who are able to drive off with a fresh BMW, you'd have to imagine it pays for itself very quickly.
Not wanting to simply take someone's word for it, BBC went ahead and purchased such a device and tested it out on a BMW. Within a couple of minutes, this reporter who had no prior experience with the device, managed to start the car up. Quite simply, it seems that any BMWs produced after 2006 can be easily stolen should someone have this device - which by all accounts seems legal to own.
So, is BMW frantically working on a solution? Sadly, no. The company doesn't believe there's an issue, and goes on to state that the problem is not unique to BMWs:
"There is no specific BMW security issue here, this is something which affects many brands, however organised criminals have targeted particularly desirable cars, with higher value parts and that is why BMW is amongst the brands affected."
The company goes on to suggest that owners take extra precaution with their vehicles, although I'm left questioning what precautions could possibly be taken. The option to park in a secure garage isn't always there, so short of locking your tires each and every time you leave your car (highly unrealistic), it seems the cars will remain ripe for the taking.