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VW Polo Was 'Broken' into last night

Discussion in 'Motors' started by rnickster, 3 Mar 2017.

  1. rnickster

    Gangster

    Joined: 4 Mar 2007

    Posts: 409

    Location: Manchester

    So last night someone gained access to our VW Polo on our drive, went through every crook and cranny to steal our TomTom only but left everything else out on the seats like mints, papers etc. I only found out when I got into the car in the morning to drive to work, didn't hear a thing through the night.

    Someone at work has talked about this sort of thing happening around our area and to them, the thieves use some sort of device to open the car lock by scanning an area for the fob code and then replicating it to basically just unlock your car. So they must just sit around in the evening waiting for people to come home and scan a load of fobs, then return in a week or something

    Financially not that of an issue, £100 tom-tom, ok can replace with £40 from eBay....but anyway to stop this happening? I presume we need to take it to VW and get them to reset the code.
     
  2. Gaygle

    Capodecina

    Joined: 7 Nov 2004

    Posts: 15,372

    Location: East of England

    I know everyone likes to think that they fell victim to some high tech Mission Impossible gang who were hacking into their key fob to steal their 100 quid TomTom, but realistically, it's more likely that you either forgot to lock the car or pressed the button and it didn't work.

    There are so many opportunistic thieves out at night and they will try door handle after door handle until they find one that's open - and it usually doesn't take very long.
     
  3. rnickster

    Gangster

    Joined: 4 Mar 2007

    Posts: 409

    Location: Manchester

    Ok, but lets say I did lock it...
     
  4. Gaygle

    Capodecina

    Joined: 7 Nov 2004

    Posts: 15,372

    Location: East of England

    If we say that you did lock it and Tom Cruise did in fact steal the encrypted data on the chip in your key fob in order to get at your £40 satnav, you'll need to go to VW and likely have half of the ECU's on your car pulled out and replaced at the cost of....£5000?

    If you aren't willing to bet thousands on you definitely locking it - you just need to press the button, watch it lock and pull the handle to make sure it has.
     
  5. paradigm

    Caporegime

    Joined: 26 Aug 2003

    Posts: 36,988

    Location: Staffordshire

    Even if you did lock it, the likelihood is that they will have broken into it by force, or possibly by picking the lock and disabling the alarm via OBD.

    Not sure they'd go to the trouble just to steal a tomtom from a Polo though, why not take the car if they've gone to the effort of either cloning the key or getting the equipment needed to disable the security electronics via OBD.

    The circumstances are more opportunistic than planned, which would add weight to the "it wasn't actually locked" story.
     
  6. rnickster

    Gangster

    Joined: 4 Mar 2007

    Posts: 409

    Location: Manchester

    I don't the intricacies of how it is done, but when a colleague who lives round the corner says they had it happen to 3 houses in a row when she had theirs done and I was confident I locked the door as I do every night... is it not possible?

    Perfectly open to it being by force or by other means, I'm not saying they 'hacked my polo' to steal my £100 TomTom but maybe they did it to certain area, got lots and just hoped to find something good in each car?

    If your saying there is no actual way of it technically being possible to replicate the fob to unlock then I stand corrected and I will have to admit that I either forgot to lock it, its failed to lock, or they forced it open and I can't see evidence of it.
     
  7. hughtrimble

    Mobster

    Joined: 22 Jan 2014

    Posts: 3,458

    If you think they did it to a certain area, have you spoken to any other vehicle owners in your area to see if they had possessions removed from their vehicles around that night?

    Furthermore, worth asking the properties around where your car was parked whether they have any CCTV that could have filmed something.
     
  8. rnickster

    Gangster

    Joined: 4 Mar 2007

    Posts: 409

    Location: Manchester

    Yes hughtrimble we will be knocking on a few doors this evening after work to see and also asking about CCTV. Thanks for your suggestions, they are helpful.
     
  9. adolf hamster

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 18 Oct 2012

    Posts: 8,168

    sure it wasn't the ol' pallet knife with a slot down the window?

    i've seen that trick work on even pretty modern cars.
     
  10. rnickster

    Gangster

    Joined: 4 Mar 2007

    Posts: 409

    Location: Manchester

    Yeah hamster I just saw a similar video of that online with a long metal wire hook to unlock, will check the top corner of the door for signs.
     
  11. Gaygle

    Capodecina

    Joined: 7 Nov 2004

    Posts: 15,372

    Location: East of England

    Unfortunately that's the problem with word of mouth - you can get Chinese whispers. Did 3 cars have things stolen from them, or did someone attempt to get into their car and attempt to get into 3 others or had 3 people all simply left their cars unlocked?

    I'm sure I read that it is possible, but it was done by a team of expert cryptographers in a University lab. It requires a lot of pre planning, a lot of expensive specialist software/hardware, a lot of time and a lot of knowledge. If you are someone with this sort of knowledge and have this sort of money and time on your hands - you are destined for great things.

    So why would you sit on a housing estate to steal a sat nav worth £40 on eBay. Even if you struck it lucky and manage to steal 10 satnavs that night, you still would walk away with a massive 400 quid.

    There have been other people who have used devices to stop the signal from getting to the car, so the owner thinks it's locked, but the car never received the signal meaning it is unlocked. The types of people who were doing this were stealing £50,000 BMW M3s, M5s, Audi RS model to ship abroad though so they were making tens of thousands of pounds out of it and then you could argue that it is worth it and you have been a victim of a more sophisticated theft.

    I don't think they used force. Normally there is some sign of damage and if they did use force, your alarm would have gone off anyway.

    As I said above, whilst it is technically possible, it's horrendously unlikely that you are a victim of this.
     
  12. kinobestew123

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 6 Feb 2008

    Posts: 1,734

    A couple of weeks ago, somebody came down our very small cul-de-sac and "broke into" 5 cars in this same manner including ours. All 5 cars had the doors left wide open in the morning. There is no way that we all left our doors unlocked.

    What was even weirder is that nothing was taken from any car. The glove boxes were emptied with sat nav's, etc all having been thrown onto the floor. There was a Citizen watch in my glove box also. None of it was taken.

    4 of the 5 cars were Ford and the other 1 was a Citroen.

    I too would have put it down to a door opening trick but when we spoke to the police, they're convinced somebody local has a scanner type thing as every night quite a few cars (fords in particular) seem to be getting hit.
     
  13. Dav4

    Mobster

    Joined: 20 Apr 2014

    Posts: 2,556

    Location: Home

    Op does your car have keyless entry or push button start? As I have seen countless threads on PH of drivers with these options getting there cars broken into easily. There was even a guy saying his new Bmw and a few other German cars on the street got opened without any forced entry and they only stole whatever was in the glovebox etc.
     
  14. rnickster

    Gangster

    Joined: 4 Mar 2007

    Posts: 409

    Location: Manchester

    Gaygle, ok ok, I concede. I forgot to lock it. Thanks for your help.

    kinobestew123 thanks for the story, interesting to hear others have had similar strange 'happenings'

    Dav4 - the car is key ignition/start and has a fob with key that 'flicks out and 3 buttons with lock, unlock and boot
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 3 Mar 2017
  15. touch

    Capodecina

    Joined: 28 Oct 2006

    Posts: 11,968

    Location: Sufferlandria

    "Replicating the fob" is possible, but pointless. It's a single-use code sent to the car each time you unlock it.
    I think it's theoretically possible to break the encryption and generate codes but I dont know much about the details.

    If you want to go down the 'hacker' route, it's more likely that some sort of signal jammer was used. I.E. You pressed the lock button but the signal was obscured and the car didnt lock - did you see the lights flash and hear the lock activate?
     
  16. skyripper

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 19 Jul 2011

    Posts: 2,187

    It is a single use code, but if its not received by the car, then its reusable.
    Its susceptible to a man-in-the-middle attack.

    The attacker just has to trigger a blocking signal (ie. generate a huge amount of RF) while recording what other signals are being transmitted at the same time.
    The car owner will just shrug, and press their fob again when their first press does nothing and wanders off.
    The attacker then sends the original signal they recorded. No breaking of encryption needed.

    Given the ability to readily buy mobile phones from china that fit inside a keyfob (target market seems to be people in prison), it would not be unreasonable to expect that keycode snatching devices are readily available either.

    Until car manufacturers have a two way communication between car and keyfob this attack is only going to get more common.
     
  17. KiNgPiN83

    Mobster

    Joined: 16 Nov 2003

    Posts: 4,897

    We regularly have this in our neighbourhood 2 or more guys will walk up the road one either side each trying every car's doors as they go. They only need a couple of cars to be left unlocked and have goodies in them and its worth their time. So much so that its a monthly occurance! I'm not saying you left yours unlocked but many do. One guy near us even said he doesnt lock his car?! (He's had stuff pilfered twice...)

    I guess its just the nature of the fob and not having to physically lock cars with a key that does it.

    Sounds like a lot of effort to steal some mints, a blanket and a Will Young CD... :o
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 3 Mar 2017
  18. adolf hamster

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 18 Oct 2012

    Posts: 8,168

    i guess its luck of the draw, if you had the equipment it wouldnt be hard to be "profitable", after all there'll be some eejit leaves his £2k business laptop under the passenger seat somewhere.

    but even on the basic level, you can steal say 5 satnavs a day, even if you just about manage to sell on for £50 per unit that's still £250 for a days work.
     
  19. rnickster

    Gangster

    Joined: 4 Mar 2007

    Posts: 409

    Location: Manchester

    People seem to be getting hooked up on the fact that I was lucky and had nothing valuable in my car. They didn't know what was in the glove compartment, just like they don't know whats in the Range Rover Sport around the corner.

    There are plenty of £50k + cars around my area so I can assure you it is probably well worth the time on some of them.
     
  20. touch

    Capodecina

    Joined: 28 Oct 2006

    Posts: 11,968

    Location: Sufferlandria

    So you captured the 'lock' code that was sent to the car the first time the driver tried to lock it. How do you turn this into an 'unlock' code?
    If i press the lock button when my car is already locked, it doesnt unlock.