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Thatcham-certified devices provide solution to technology-led car theft trend

So says Thatcham Research, the motor insurers’ automotive research centre, adding that such devices are becoming one of the few solutions to protect vehicles as thieves use internet-sourced electronic devices to steal cars without the keys.

Latest figures from the Metropolitan Police reveal that just under half (47%) of all car theft in London last year was carried out without the use of force, with thieves believed to be hacking into on board computers using devices bought on the internet.

These devices either fool the car into thinking the owner’s smart key is present by using radio transmitters, or plug directly into the on-board diagnostic unit to access the engine control unit (ECU), where a thief can programme a blank key to start the car. Thieves can steal a vehicle in just 10 seconds without causing any damage.

Thatcham Research recommends that one way to protect a car from this type of theft is by fitting a Thatcham-certified vehicle tracking device that operates independently from the car’s ECU.


‘Carmakers are very focused on addressing this issue and we know that progress has been made over the past two years.  For those motorists still concerned about their car potentially being compromised, we recommend fitting a Thatcham certified vehicle tracking system,’ said Mike Briggs, Thatcham’s security research manager.

‘The Thatcham security testing regime is one of the most rigorous in the world and our certification provides the benchmark level for crime prevention. Even if a car is stolen, a Thatcham-certified vehicle tracking system enables it to be located by the tracking supplier and repatriated by the police to its owner in a short period of time,’ he added.

Andrew Smith, managing director at Cobra UK Limited, added: ‘Car crime is no longer the preserve of the opportunist but a more targeted activity towards prestige brands which are stolen to order. 

‘We are committed to partnering with Thatcham to ensure our CobraTrak and NavTrak products continue to thwart car thieves as they use ever more sophisticated means to steal cars.’

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.