Gee, nice security tech, automakers!
A car theft ring in the United Kingdom was busted by authorities, who realized the group was using a knockoff Game Boy device to unlock and start vehicles. Per a BBC report, these devices are worth £20,000 and can crack a car’s advanced security system so easily, unlocking one and starting the engine can take “a matter of seconds.” That’s right, a modified children’s toy makes stealing modern cars so easy, your child could probably do it.
Watch a Dodge Hellcat get stolen in 8 minutes here.
This revelation would help explain how some otherwise dumb-as-a-rock criminals are able to bypass what some automakers try to pass off as highly secure systems. In this specific incident in the UK, police say the three men they caught had managed to steal five Mitsubishi Outlanders. They stashed the Nintendo Gameboy in a hidden compartment in their car, likely because having it discovered would let the cat out of the bag of how they were boosting cars.
Some might say this is a UK-only phenomena, but in this brave new world of global interconnectivity, we’ve noticed crime trends like methods for stealing cars tends to spread quickly. Just how long these Game Boy knockoffs have been used to bypass car security systems isn’t entirely clear, but we’ve known thieves in the United States have been using some sort of handheld devices to boost cars like Dodge Hellcats for some time.
This specific device is sold by SOS Auto Keys, a Bulgarian company. Designed to record data from cars, a vehicle it’s used on will see the handheld device as a real key fob, allowing full access to the security systems and ignition. SOS Auto Keys says this device is “the most advanced locksmith tool” they sell.
Available on the market since June, these devices are controversial. Before getting too hung up on their existence, keep in mind car thieves have been using similar tech for quite some time. Media outlets and individuals who didn’t realize this before are understandably concerned since this highlights that the technology they thought was ultra-secure is anything but.
Check out the SOS Auto Keys device in action in the video.