GPS tracking devices have been used by a car theft ring in the UK to steal vehicles, largely targeting those parked at airports. The gang used an insider member at the airport and cloning devices to replicate 'keyless entry' transponders for the cars, attached the trackers, and then stole the vehicles weeks or even months later.
Police had for some time been left "scratching their heads" over the crimes, a court heard during the trial of members of the ring, according to a report in The Telegraph.
The thieves also targeted vehicles in traffic, causing minor damage to them and then directing them to a repairer who was part of the ring, and who would clone the car's key -- and also fit a tracking device that would allow the theft to take place some time later.
Targeted vehicles included an expensive McLaren and Bentley Continental, but were largely mid and upper-level premium brands, including more common Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Range Rover and Land Rover models.
The gang was uncovered after police became suspicious about the repairer, and fitted up a 'Trojan' vehicle with recording devices and their own tracking unit, then took it to the body shop. The thieves discovered part of the tracking unit in the undercover vehicle and reversed their attempts to clone its keys. But unbeknownst to them the recording devices were still monitoring all their conversations, including discussions of the Trojan vehicle.
The court was told more than 100 of the vehicles stolen were tracked as having been shipped to East Africa for sale. Only one has been recovered.
This reporter is on Twitter: @KarlaPincott