Car thieves target keys in city raids
CAR thieves have targeted drivers’ keys to beat modern security systems and steal a string of high-powered cars in Edinburgh.
Police today warned that thieves have been rifling through victims’ pockets and breaking into houses to get their hands on keys with immobiliser buttons.
They have then simply walked down the street, pointing the electronic keys at cars until they have found the owners’ vehicles.
The owners of Porsches, Mercedes, BMWs and Mitsubishi Shoguns have had their cars stolen in this way in recent weeks.
The thieves have been particularly active in more affluent areas of the city such as the New Town, the Grange and Morningside.
But police warned owners of more middle-market cars had also been targeted by the scam.
Detectives are unsure whether a gang or individual thieves are responsible for the majority of the spree. However, they believe the majority of the cars have been stolen to order, with owners’ movements being watched by thieves before they strike.
A spokesman for Lothian and Borders police said: "Since mid-March there have been 15 thefts of high-value vehicles in the Edinburgh area, with the culprits specifically targeting the keys.
"There have been eight domestic housebreakings, with the main target being car keys. The loss has been estimated at around 125,000.
"This is a disturbing trend throughout the city. While most of the thefts have been high-value vehicles, owners of middle-market cars should be on their guard too.
"We are urging people to be aware key fobs with immobiliser buttons make the vehicle easily identifiable and easy to steal."
The spokesman said installing thousands of pounds worth of alarm systems was pointless unless people took proper care of their keys when in public places such as sports centres, pubs, clubs and restaurants.
He also issued the following advice to car owners;
If you go out, or when you are in bed at night, hide your car keys.
If you are going on holiday, take your car keys with you.
Neil Greig, head of motoring policy at the AA, said: "I’m not surprised this is a growing trend especially because modern cars are almost impossible to steal.
"[Thieves] need to get hold of the unique key to drive a car away. Even if they can break in, immobilisers often stop then being driven away. The key is the crucial item and people must look after their keys a lot more than they have done."
One victim described how easy it had been for him to fall victim to the thieves new practice.
The 28-year-old call centre manager described how his keys were stolen from his jacket pocket during a night out with colleagues.
His wrecked Peugeot car was later found by police after being abandoned by the thieves.
The 28-year-old, who asked not to be named, said: "I’d parked my car in the Grange area near to where we were all meeting.
"The next morning I couldn’t find my keys and thought maybe I had just lost them when I was out.
"I went home, got the spare set and my dad took me to where I thought I’d parked my car.
"It wasn’t long before we realised the car had been stolen and we reported it to police."
He added: "It’s not something you think about when you think of car thefts, but it is so easy for them to do. They only need to move down the street with the key fob and the car will light up and bleep and off they go."
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South west